Key facts about the artist

Myriad Mouth Line (2011)

Tolmie works across several media, including performance art, installation, sound and video
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee
LUX Associate Artists Programme 2009-2010
Lives and works


About Cara's work

Cara Tolmie works across several media, including performance art, installation, sound and video, to explore theatrical conventions, language and human interaction. Using her own voice and body, as well as those of other performers, she investigates the meaning of actions and their interpretation through theatrical techniques including monologue and narration. Working with handmade self-designed sets and relying on many of her own abilities to realise her works, she constructs unique and personal narratives and scenarios.

Her 2011 performance Myriad Mouth Line sees the artist act alone for the audience. Using nothing but her voice, she crosses the stage calling out in a variety of styles from operatic singing to high-pitched screeching, before delivering an enigmatic monologue. She then goes on to describe the scenario as it has just happened, unravelling what has gone before. She makes connections with the critical framework for performance that questions the medium itself.

Similar approaches are seen in the recent film Pley (2013), shown within an installation of artist-designed furniture, which recalls that of the Italian designers and architects Memphis Group. The film features two distinct strands of content. One sequence captures a lone actress as she occupies a mysterious purpose-built room, speaking on the telephone to an unknown caller. As she speaks she meticulously makes combinations of objects found scattered throughout the construction. The second strand consists of interviews with three performers, which take place in what appears to be a backstage area. They recount exercises Tolmie has requested they perform. Yet all we are party to are their descriptions; their actual performances are absent from the film. The work highlights a divide between what is described, and what has taken place, and exposes the many ways performance can be read. Tolmie unpicks conventional narrative structures in order to create new possibilities through ambiguity.


Cara Tolmie (born 1984 in Glasgow) received her BA (Hons) from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee, in 2005. She participated in the LUX Associate Artists Programme in 2009–10. Recent performances include One must force the frozen circumstances to dance by singing to them their own melody at Pavilion, Leeds and Otiumfold, commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London (both 2013) and a collaborative performance with Paul Abbott for Counterflows Festival, Glasgow 2014. The solo exhibition Pley took place at Spike Island, Bristol in 2013. Recent group shows include Home Theatre at Baró, São Paulo (2013), Deep Cuts at Marres, Maastricht (2013) and Soundworks at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2012). She lives and works in London.


More information

Bridget Crone (ed.), The Sensible Stage, Picture This, Bristol, with Bridget Crone/Plenty Projects, 2012