Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Claire Morgan

Claire Morgan is a contemporary artist who works with strange and interesting subject matter. She mostly works with taxidermy animals, insects, and various items from nature. Her installations make you question the world around you because she makes nature look so precise in her sculptures. They are incredibly fragile in nature and have extreme interest in revealing a different habitat that her viewer has to confront.

side view                                                 detail view                                                              bottom view

Fall Out, 2010
Ginkgo leaves, 3 taxidermy canaries, nylon, lead, acrylic
98 x 98 x 150 cm
Fall Out is an installation that Morgan did in 2010 that has been exhibited at Under The Sun, Galerie Karsten Greve, and Cologne.  Fall out is extremely well crafted in an interesting, funnel like form. The curvilinear aspects are continued as the leaves and canaries fall from this giant nest like hemisphere. From the side view there is a definite linear aspect that can be seen because of how particular she was when hanging each leaf. There is an extreme sense of a push and pull between the order and chaos in this piece. The circular hemisphere above seems very orderly, but as the life falls out of that protection, it becomes chaotic. I think this can be representative of not only the bird’s journey, but of human life as well.

                                                                                                                         detail view

The Grass is Always Greener, 2010
Torn green plastic bags, 2 taxidermy squirrels, nylon, lead, acrylic
90 x 98 x 250 cm
 When one hears the title, The Grass is Always Greener, one tends to add or finish the saying, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side.’ In this installation piece, she has clearly created two sides. As you can see in the detailed view, the squirrels are almost longing at each other to be on that ‘other side’ with each other. I think it is interesting that she has put such a natural being in with the man-made plastics. Again, her incredible attention to perfection creates beautiful linear qualities in the giant cubes.

          frontal view                                                           side/bottom view                                   detail view

Silver Lining, 2009
0.72m x 0.7m x 2m (h) from ceiling
Taxidermy Barn Owl and Rat, thistle seeds, dandelion seeds, lead, nylon, acrylic
In Silver Lining, Morgan’s use of the animal seems to have a bit more importance in the story behind it. To see a ‘silver lining’ is to provide a good outlook on a difficult situation. This difficult situation that Morgan has emphasized in this installation is the struggle between life and death. The owl has to live, therefore it must eat or it will die. And the mouse will die if it does not get away from the owl in order to live. It’s as if the owl is sitting atop this ‘silver lining,’ which is getting in the way of its supper, or protecting the mouse. I think this another great example of Morgan’s extreme attention to detail, and it also shows how important light can be in her instillations. The thistle and dandelion seeds would not keep their light integrity without this light showering the sculpture.

                                                                              detail                                                                         detail

Throe, 2010
Thistle seeds, 2 taxidermy rooks, nylon, lead, acrylic
180 x 180 x 300 cm
The title is, again, a lot to think about when looking at this sculpture.  Throe means a violent spasm or a sharp attack of emotion; when you look at this sculpture you can see this violent feeling as the two rooks have collided together. It is as if they have pushed or flown through this sphere of thistle seeds in order to attach each other. The amount of patience it must have taken to install this piece, or any piece of Morgan’s, must have been incredible; the way she was able to make the sphere look as if it was being broken into is beautiful. I think the calm, light, and peaceful nature of the sphere is greatly contrasted with the birds by her use of black and white. I also feel that the shadows on the ground play a huge part in this piece of art as well, because in order to do that she has had to really use the light in a creative way.


Landmarks, 2007
On the roof 4.5m (l) approx, in the field 45m (l) approx
Fleece, twigs and pins

“This work was the result of a residency at Wooda Farm, Cornwall
Wool from the sheep on the farm was carded and felted, and used to create the outline of half a rectangle on the grass roof of the studio. More wool was carded and used to create the other half of the rectangle in a neighbouring field. The complete rectangle was only visible from one specific point on the roof.” –Morgan

I enjoy this piece of work because of the sense that it will not last over time. She has created it so the viewer must stand to view it in only one place; otherwise, it is no longer what she has made it to be:

      Heavyweight, 2004

I wanted to show this one in order to show Morgan’s incredible way of transforming objects and making her viewer see them differently from what they originally were.

In many of Claire Morgan’s earlier works, she has done many pieces with fruit, real fruit. The time that the instillation is up, which can be weeks at a time, is part of the art and her message to her viewers.

Sit, 2002
Fruit 0.5m (w) x 0.5m (l) x 0.5m (h)
Fresh fruit (apple, orange, strawberry, mango, grapefruit, plum, kiwi etc), nylon threads, painted white wooden chair
“The title is a command. It makes reference to people's willingness to do what they are told without question, things that are the 'done thing', things that are expected of us. The viewer does not sit. In making this work, part of my intention was to explore the relationships between humans and the rest of the natural world. I try to force the fruit to become somehow inorganic, manufactured, pressing it into this invisible cube, which ultimately will not contain it. The fruit sags and rots, falling to the empty seat below. The rotting is important. It suggests waste or disappointment, something unrectifiable. The passing of time is important. The fruit rots, smells and drips; the viewer gets older; this is where the two 'meet'. This work made people feel dirty; they wanted to protect themselves from the juices, maybe because they subconsciously remind us of our own decay. The work was playful, only disgusting because of what we are taught to see as disgusting. Malicious only because of our own prejudice against decay.”-Morgan
                                                  After 1 week                                                                                      After 3 weeks

Untitled, 2002
1.20m (w) x 1.2m (l) x height variable
Approx 2000 strawberries, nylon thread
“Over 4 weeks, the strawberries decayed, the initial form and colour becoming distorted beyond recognition as they changed.” –Morgan

The More I Want You, 2003
1m (w) x 1m (l) x 0.08m (h)
Fresh strawberries and painted chipboard

       Approx 30cm long
       Life-sized jumbo party balloon cast in lead

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