Culture / Art Republik

Artists from Northern Ireland: Claire Morgan holds first solo exhibitions America and France

The contemplative elegance of the Belfast-born artist’s installations question the sustainability of the fragile relationship between man and the environment

Apr 05, 2017 | By Teo Hui Min
Claire Morgan, Gone With the Wind, 2008, wild flower seeds, kittiwake gull (taxidermy), nylon, lead, acrylic; 220 x 200 x 1100 centimetres in height, width and depth

Claire Morgan, Gone With the Wind, 2008, wild flower seeds, kittiwake gull (taxidermy), nylon, lead, acrylic; 220 x 200 x 1100 centimetres in height, width and depth

Visually arresting, Claire Morgan’s installation and paper works achieve their resonance by tapping into a sense of the uncanny. Bringing into question our perceived notions of organic life and movement, the animals in Morgan’s works are lifeless shells preserved through her skill as a professional taxidermist. Different species of animals suspended in motion move through spaces constrained by geometric pattern and regularity.

Morgan’s hanging installations are assemblages of organic and non-organic material brought into a meticulous and calculating order that serves to emphasise themes surrounding the human relationship to our environment, and the ceaseless ebb and flow of death and the regeneration of life. “Exploring the physicality of animals, death, and illusions of permanence in the work is my way of trying to come to terms with these things myself,” she says.

The artist was trained in sculpture at Northumbria University in England, and born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1980. Having exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in France in 2009, Morgan went on to present to great acclaim, a solo exhibition titled ‘Life.Blood.’ at Galerie Karsten Greve, also in Paris. Since then, Morgan’s has participated in international shows across Europe, the United States and Australia.

There is a stillness to Morgan’s works that acts as a poetic juxtaposition to the active postures that many of her animal subjects possess. The environments they are situated within are immersive, densely overwhelming, and composed of delicate and painstakingly mounted materials that range from individual seeds to scraps of polyethylene and cellophane. Morgan acknowledges then, the fragility of these rigidly imposed spaces. Nevertheless, her subjects remain trapped wild animals caged in a perpetual quietude.

Claire Morgan, 'The Beauty and the Beast', 2012, watercolour, pencil on paper, 40.6 x 30.5 centimetres in height and width

Claire Morgan, ‘The Beauty and the Beast’, 2012, watercolour, pencil on paper, 40.6 x 30.5 centimetres in height and width

Morgan is also known for her “blood drawings”, works on paper that depict the conceptual process leading towards a completed sculpture or installation. Passionately gestural, the works on paper capture pathways of motion and energy that run through the final works, often alongside detailed renderings of the built environments that will eventually come to confine them.

Seen in relation to the completed sculptures, the paper works draw attention to the intentional construction of a mechanical order of straight lines and grids that is intercut by the order of nature. The organic lines of nature represented through flowing lines and animal forms gently but surely disrupt the linear composition of their surroundings. As we enter a period of global uncertainty, Morgan’s works inspire deep introspection within the increasingly relevant conversation of the human impact on environmental degradation and change.

Claire Morgan, 'My God-shaped Hole', 2016, residues of taxidermy process, salt, graphite, and mixed media, on paper on canvas, 100 x 100 centimetres in height and width

Claire Morgan, ‘My God-shaped Hole’, 2016, residues of taxidermy process, salt, graphite, and mixed media, on paper on canvas, 100 x 100 centimetres in height and width

Her first solo show in the United States, ‘Stop Me Feeling’ runs at Frist Centre for Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, from February 10 to May 7, 2017. Fondation Francès in Senlis, France, will display a solo show, ‘Resurgence My God-Shaped Hole’ from March to December 2017. In Autumn 2017, Paris-based Galerie Karsten Greve, will also present a solo exhibition of new works.

This article is written by Teo Hui Min and was originally published in Art Republik 14.

 
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