Artist's Statement: Laura Morrison talks about her piece in Derry City of Culture

Laura Morrison interviewed by Mark Sheerin | 02 April 2013

Artist's Statement: Goldsmiths graduate and emerging UK talent Laura Morrison discusses the most striking piece in her two person show at Void gallery in Derry-Londonderry...

Colour photo of an artist in front of a monumental relief
The artist pictured with her work: Anger, Java (detail)© Culture24
"One element of the show is a large scale plasticine relief which is 16 foot across and 8 foot tall. It also sits slightly proud from the wall, so it looks like a floating surface, just slightly.

What’s happening on the relief is there’s a rendering of an image that, at its deepest gets to around, let’s say, 6cm. The image is kind of an idyllic scene, essentially, that’s kind of composed in quite a satisfying way so people can see...a palm tree on the left with these slightly obscene coconuts protruding.

The leaves of the palm tree are pulled out and sculpted so they come away from the surface. But then the major component of the image is a tsunami wave.

The image was taken from a contemporary science illustration as an imaginative response to the tsunami which hit the coast of Indonesia in 1883, when Krakatoa’s volcano erupted. So this is a re-rendering of a re-rendering. It’s a multi-layered appropriation of an over-invested image.

Don't make too much of the over-investment. When you come into the space I don’t think you worry about that too much. I think you just receive the image in kind of a simple way.

It’s really absorbing; the materials are really tactile. It’s this haptic thing and I think that all of this work has a muteness about it.

It’s important to me that there’s a kind of silence about the image, because a major motivation for me is to make a space for worrying about how images, in their speed and in their proliferation, have become apolitical in terms of our response to them.

And what I’ve tried to do is render an atmosphere in this space that re-engages a politics with an image.

The image that I’ve used to make the plasticine relief comes from a science photo library, although it’s a strange one.

It’s not really a documentary image of the universe expanding or something. It’s a science illustration, so it’s already a kind of strange anomaly in their own location.

It’s by an artist who’s now given up doing science illustrations and gone back to still lives. She’s somewhere in America. I guess you could call her an artisan. This is not some kind of cynical critique of that practice; I just found it to have some potential for rethinking.

It was so emphatic, with dark clouds and the suggestion in the slope in the background of the volcano erupting. And the wave was so full-on and the palm tree was so palm tree-ish - it allowed for thinking about what it means to directly address something that’s become cliché over cliché over cliché, but to actually still address it with care and attention.”

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