Heather & Ivan Morison - The Long Afternoon of Earth

Papercrete and trees. Meadow Arts commission 2017-18 with the Hive and the University of Worcester. Photo Stefan Handy.

Heather & Ivan Morison - The Long Afternoon of Earth

Papercrete and trees. Meadow Arts commission 2017-18 with the Hive and the University of Worcester. Photo Stefan Handy.

Heather & Ivan Morison - The Long Afternoon of Earth

Papercrete and trees. Meadow Arts commission 2017-18 with the Hive and the University of Worcester. Photo by the artists.

Heather & Ivan Morison - The Long Afternoon of Earth

Papercrete and trees. Meadow Arts commission 2017-18 with the Hive and the University of Worcester. Photo by the artists.

The Long Afternoon of Earth

Meadow Arts commission 2017-18

Twelve papercrete sculptures with trees

“As the rain continued the moisture inevitably found a way inside. The books soon became damp, then spongy, and finally collapsed into mulch. The spores, until now dormant and hidden within the pages themselves, began to flourish in these new conditions. The spores grew, sending out limbs and leaves. Their roots pushed through the pulp, drawing it together, forming it into the intricate folds of a complex geometry. As the buildings of the old world fell away, a new architecture and its parasitic builders rose up in its place.”

Heather and Ivan Morison have been artists in residence at The Hive and University of Worcester throughout 2017. They have created a series of sculptural works that respond to the consumption of knowledge and the wealth of information held in The Hive.

The Hive was the first library in Europe to house both a university book collection and a public lending library, and the artists have been using this fascinating intersection between academia and civic life to develop this new work for 2018. They have met the staff, students, users and groups that frequent this vibrant and busy library, and were looking at what the people of Worcester read. They have opened their process up to the Fine Art students of University of Worcester, who are following and participating in this live project, gaining a unique experience and insight into how an artist works.

“I have spent the last year at The Hive in open research with the library, the staff, the readers and the books. I have met the archaeologists, librarians, archivists, researchers and engineers that work in the library. I have observed students study for midwifery exams, young people watch youtube videos of skate tricks, people investigating their family history, a young homeless person asleep in a corner and listened to many parents and grandparents voices fill the central void with songs during rhyme time. This is the life of a library.

I have read some of the books and only skimmed others. I kept People and Places, by Sue Braden, close by, as it supported me in the rich and challenging task of working outside of the gallery space. With every visit, I have shared my thoughts and process with the students of the BA (Hons) Fine Art course at the University of Worcester and discussed the role of the library in their lives and work. They have visited me at our studio and will continue to be involved in the talks and the care of the work.

There is much life in our libraries, and The Hive serves many people. I have thought a lot about what an artist could bring to this abundant place and cycled through many potential works and ideas. I have chopped and changed and finally decided to conceive a work that is both made of the library and brings warmth to the library. Reading is not just about what we read, it is also about the comfy chair, the soft but good lighting, the countryside rushing past on a train, the sun warming your legs on the beach, the earl grey in your favourite cup, the baby asleep on your chest. We have tried to capture a little of that in the commission for The Hive.

Made of recycled books and natural pigments The Long Afternoon of Earth is twelve vessel/objects that ask you to stop, settle, read. Accompanying the reader, the student, the researcher, the visitor and the luncher, the works speak of Burmese cats purring on a knee while reading, a roaring fire that invites you to settle with a travel book, a houseplant sitting in a stand next to your favourite reading spot. Twelve of these objects/vessels are placed around The Hive, each with a tree growing in them creating a dozen discreet spaces or settings. Sit here, they will say, next to the art and read, study, lunch, or snooze, and feel at home, feel warmth.”

Heather Morison, 2018

 

Heather & Ivan Morison

Heather and Ivan Morison (born UK, 1973 and Turkey, 1974 respectively) have established an ambitious collaborative practice over the past decade that transcends the divisions between art, architecture and theatre. They are based in Weobley, Herefordshire and Abergwynant, North Wales.

Heather and Ivan Morison make art as an active engagement with materials, histories, sites and processes, producing sculpture, plays, photographs, installations and buildings, and site-specific projects internationally, including the establishment of an arboretum in Wales. More recently they are known for their architectural structures that relate to ideas of escape, play, shelter and refuge, the transformation of the modern city, weight and levity, solidity and transparency; the construction of which are very often part of a broad community effort.

Their central preoccupation has always been how we navigate catastrophe and the essential violence of change. More recent works have moved from a wider social view to how individuals transcend moments of personal calamity.

Their works range across a diverse set of media and approaches which sees their work manifest itself both within the gallery but also within wider physical and social arenas, from a nomadic theatre company to the creation of large-scale public spaces, explicitly engaging in the dialogue around redefining the limitations of where and how it is possible for artists to work.

 

Heather & Ivan Morison have exhibited widely across UK, Europe, Australasia, Canada and the USA. They are presently working on permanent commissions in Cambridge, Bristol and Newbury, temporary commissions in New York and Seattle, exhibiting at the Royal Academy summer show and are shortlisted for the Birmingham Big Art Project. Key past projects include Shadow Curriculum, South London Gallery, 2015; Misery Farm, Hauser and Wirth, Somerset, 2015; Sleepers Awake, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2014; All’s Well That Ends, Schauspielhaus Bochum, Germany 2014; Smile All the While, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 2014; Skirt of the Black Mouth, Tate Modern, London, 2012-15; Nuclear Family, National Theatre of Wales, 2013; Black Pleasure, Eastside Projects, Birmingham 2013; Anna, The Hepworth, Wakefield, 2012; Cave, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 2012; Black Pig Lodge, Southbank Centre, London, 2011; Mr. Clevver, Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania, Australia, 2011; Plaza, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, 2010; The Black Line Void, Derry, Northern Ireland, 2009; Black Cloud, Situations, Bristol, 2009; Journée des Barricades, One Day Sculpture, Wellington, New Zealand,
 2008; And So it Goes, representing Wales at the 52nd Venice Biennial, 2007.

Their book, Falling into Place, a fictionalized account of their large architectural shelter works, was published by Bookworks in 2009, and was made into an audio book by Palaver Press, New York in 2015. A monograph of their work, edited by Claire Doherty and Gavin Wade will be published in 2017. Heather and Ivan Morison are visiting lecturers in fine art at Goldsmiths, sculpture at Royal College of Art and are represented by Works|Projects, Bristol, UK and Clint Roenisch, Toronto, Canada.

 

Some Notes on Practice

We think about people and how we can make them see their world afresh, how we can lift them out of the everyday to see the edges of their lives.

We think a lot about the places where people live, about the communities that exist there, and how these can be transformed.

We try to identify the blind spots, unspoken, or ignored in a place.

Sometimes we start with something elemental - some earth, a rock, a tree, a book, some bone, a fire, and think how it can be transformed through processes and tools into something other.

We might take a simple shape - a square, a line, a circle or triangle, and fold it, or cut it, or shrink it and repeat it, or enlarge it and make it monolithic. Sometimes it’s not a shape but an idea that gets folded and cut and repeated and enlarged.

We make the materials into the shapes, we try and do it slowly, carefully. We do it ourselves and try to bring people through the experience with us, imbuing the final forms with honesty and depth.

We are looking for people to be unsettled by what they see, but also find hope through this confrontation.

Sometimes we say we want people to rise up and reorder the world they are living in, to break out of the rigid grid of the modern city and to twist and distort it, to realign it into a more beautiful geometry.

Sometimes people also think this. Sometimes they do it.

We think of our work as a blueprint for happiness.

 

More information can be found at www.morison.info

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