Annie Morris’ towering sculptures balance grief, hope and defiance

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

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.’

 Stephen White
Annie Morris’ studio, 2021. Photography: Stephen White

The exhibition will comprise a ‘forest’ of imposing pigment and bronze sculptures, 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.’ §

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