Annie Morris’ towering sculptures balance grief, hope and defiance

Annie Morris' forthcoming show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park will present a new series of gravity-defying stack sculptures that draw on personal tragedy and resilience

Annie Morris studio portrait, 2021 ahead of exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Annie Morris studio portrait, 2021.
(Image credit: Idris Khan)

The vibrant, towering works of British artist Annie Morris are charged with energy, optimism and resilience. Her forthcoming exhibition, ‘When A Happy Thing Falls’, opens on 25 September 2021 in Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Weston Gallery and coincides with a show at Timothy Taylor London and inclusion in Frieze Sculpture 2021. 

The show's title was inspired by a poem in Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies; its contents are rooted in personal tragedy and resilience. ‘The works in the exhibition have come from a personal tragedy of a stillborn baby’, says Morris. ‘The title suggests the moment just after loss. For me, this is the moment in which hope becomes vital. I wanted to make something that reminded me of this.’

Annie Morris' studio, 2021.

Annie Morris' studio, 2021

(Image credit: Stephen White)

The exhibition will comprise a ‘forest’ of imposing pigment and bronze Sculpture s, alongside framed tapestry works, or ‘thread paintings’. The artist sought to replicate the energy of her studio space – a former hummus factory in Stoke Newington that she shares with husband and fellow artist Idris Khan – within the Weston Gallery’s distinctive architecture, which was taken over by Holly Hendry in 2019. ‘I love the rhythm of the ceiling and it being one big open space,’ says the artist. Outside the gallery, Morris will position a 3.5m bronze Sculpture  that will overlook the park’s art-studded vista, including Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man (1970), which has served as a key source of inspiration for Morris. 

Morris’ most striking pieces – titled The Stacks – are precariously balanced columns of vibrant pigmented spheres that manage to simultaneously convey instability, equilibrium and fragility. 

The artist hand-forms her pieces in plaster and sand. These are later cast in bronze, the spherical forms painted with hand-sourced, raw pigments – which she has worked with since studying at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris – in vivid ultramarine, viridian and ochre. ‘I have always been drawn to raw pigment. I wanted to try and capture pigment as it is, and before it dries. It has a certain lightness and richness that feels very alive and fragile.

Annie Morris, Stack 8, Ultramarine Blue, 2021, foam core, pigment, concrete, steel, sand and plaster.

Annie Morris, Stack 8, Ultramarine Blue, 2021, foam core, pigment, concrete, steel, sand and plaster.

(Image credit: Stephen White)

Portrait of Annie Morris with Diaries, 2020

Portrait of Annie Morris with Diaries, 2020

(Image credit: Idris Khan)

Annie Morris, Untitled, 2021, linen and thread.

Annie Morris, Untitled, 2021, linen and thread

(Image credit: studio )

Annie Morris' studio, 2021.

Annie Morris' studio, 2021.

(Image credit: Stephen White)

INFORMATION

Annie Morris, ’When A Happy Thing Falls’, 25 September - 6 February 2022, The Weston Gallery and open air, Yorkshire Sculpture  Park. ysp.org.uk (opens in new tab)

ADDRESSVIEW GOOGLE MAPS (opens in new tab)

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
West Bretton
Wakefield WF4 4LG

Harriet Lloyd-Smith is the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.