Being alive can be beautiful and horrific. Every living thing is in this state of constant transition. I am intrigued by those simultaneous senses of spiritual communion and unpalatable intrusion that come about through awareness of our connectedness, and of our vulnerability.
My practice has been focussed on how we humans understand and interact with the rest of the natural world, and our unwillingness to acknowledge our absolute lack of autonomy or control. I look at humans as animals, and the complexity of our intellectual dislocation from the landscape that sustains us. We behave as individual entities with fixed identities, but the reality is less clear. The me that I was a few days ago no longer exists.
My environmental concerns have always been reflected in my work, particularly the passive role we have chosen to assume within our environment, and our reluctance to fully accept our own culpability in its destruction. The waste plastic in my work is like a contemporary artefact that embodies our lazy, indulgent, throwaway culture, and it provides a very clear and literal example of the impact we have on our surroundings. But I am not making work about rubbish. More than this, it embodies the social and psychological toll this culture can take on us, as individuals and as animals. There is a jarring between the disruptive, meticulous, and unstoppable cycles of life and death that ultimately govern us, and the superficial, seductive, sedate, safe and easily consumable things that we choose to use to entertain and distract ourselves.
Labour and repetition have been important tools for me. I discovered that I could use incredibly fragile materials to create the illusion of precise geometric structures. Any event might destroy these structures. As the potential for destruction seems closer, the senses of frailty and futility become more powerful, and there is a particular beauty in that moment.
Over time my exploration has expanded into animality, sexuality, violence – both inflicted and received – and the patriarchal, colonial systems that have formed so much of the basis of contemporary life. I am looking at history, memory and vulnerability, both personal and collective. My own early experiences of trauma and loss had a profound impact that remains with me. My most recent work probes violence through formal and material means. It has a cathartic function, and seems to slow that violence down, arrest it, and draw from it a strange power, and the possibility of renewal.
What if I could create something that was both plastic and organic, something massive and viscerally violent, but at the same time so delicate as to barely even exist.
I want to reach what is hidden beneath the layers of synthetic contemporary culture, at the heart of our experience, as well as how we try to hide that, or, try to hide from it. At its core, my practice is an exploration of the human condition. It comes from somewhere deeply personal.
Claire Morgan – April 2021
Claire Morgan was born in 1980 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Solo shows have included A tentative strategy for a renewal, or, wanting to tell you everything and then changing my mind, Galerie Karsten Greve, (Paris, FR, 2021), Joy in the Pain, Saarlandmuseum Moderne Galerie (Saarbrücken, DE, 2021), As I Live and Breathe, The Horniman Museum (London, UK, 2019), Stop Me Feeling, Frist Art Museum (Nashville, US, 2017), The Sound of Silence, Het Noordbrabants Museum (Den Bosch, NL, 2016), The Gathering Dusk, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Paris, FR, 2015), Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better., Touring Osthaus Museum (Hagen, DE, 2014), Stadtmuseum Jena (Jena, DE, 2015), Fondazione Fernet Branca, (St. Louis, FR, 2015).
Group shows have includes Natura Artis Magistra, Museum Schloss Moyland (Bedburg-Hau, DE, 2020), Nature, Life, Human, MoCA Busan (Busan, KO, 2019), Beastly Hall, Hall Place (Bexley, UK, 2013), Fantastic, Lille 3000, Tripostal, Lille FR, 2012, Bestes, Bestiaux, et Bestioles, Château d’Oiron (Oiron, FR, 2011), Monanism, MONA (Tasmania, AU, 2011), on&on, La Casa Encendida (Madrid, ES, 2010), Dead or Alive, Museum of Arts and Design (New York, US, 2010).
In 2022 Morgan was a recipient of the Virginia A. Groot Foundation Grant, which recognises artists who have exceptional talent and demonstrated ability in sculpture, and in 2019, was awarded the 12th Prix de Dessin of the Fondation Daniel et Florence Guerlain, which acknowledges the significance of drawing within artistic practice. Previous awards have included the inaugural Premio Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro, Prize for Young Sculptors in 2006, and the Royal British Society of Sculptors Annual Bursary and Roy Noakes awards in 2004.
Sculptures, drawings and paintings are in numerous collections worldwide, including Centre Georges Pompidou, FR; MONA – Museum of Old and New Art, AU; Fondation Guerlain, FR; Emerige, FR; ALTANA Kulturstiftung, DE.
Current exhibitions include I only dared to touch you once I knew that you were dead, Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris (FR) 04.11.2023 – 06.01.2024 and SEISMIC: Art Meets Science, GIANT Gallery, Bournemouth (UK) 28.10.2023 – 20.01.2024.