Polly Morgan: Endless Plains
at All Visual Arts
8 June–31 July 2012
Private view: 7 June 7–9pm
2 Omega Place
London N1 9DR
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10–6pm
T +44 (0)20 7843 0410
All Visual Arts is proud to present Polly Morgan’s largest installation to date: Endless Plains.
Inspired by a recent visit to the Serengeti, this new exhibition is a vibrant parable that confronts the viewer with the uncompromising cycle of life; the predator, the parasite, and the prey.
Endless Plains interprets this vast expanse of land, at once barren and teeming with life, in perverted and unusual ways. The result is an unflinching portrait of the savagery of nature, where the sacrifice of one life for dozens more is a vital and constant exchange. Shortly after this journey, the artist had an encounter with her own mortality, developing life-threatening peritonitis and gangrene, where part of her own body died and went under the scalpel. This experience is evident in much of her new work, where bodies are rent wide, their cavities seething with life.
Morgan brings her own carcass into the gallery in the shape of a hollowed out stag, filled with resting bats. Elsewhere a fallen tree, hollow and rotten, is hung with plump piglets gorging themselves from its ‘teats’ like parasites. Sap runs, like milk, down their chins as they suck the life out of it. The piglets become a central image in Morgan’s new work, completing the chain as mushrooms sprout from their prone carcasses to nourish an avaricious flock of birds.
Circumventing the ‘traditional’ trophy taxidermy that sought to animate the subject, Morgan avoids anthropomorphosis and instead meditates on the significance of the departure of life in her work. Endless Plains is a meditation on death as process—both hierarchy and commodity, as parasites become hosts, maintaining balance through bloodshed.
Morgan’s early work manipulated scale and context to expose a latent romance and narrative in the corpse. By appropriating the Victorian art of taxidermy, she updates the traditional notion memento mori to interrogate themes including the cultural mythology around death, birth, and the afterlife. The sculptures tap into the uncanny; the fine line between animate and inanimate capturing the imagination of audiences and critics worldwide.
Notes to editors
Polly Morgan, born in 1980, is a British artist and living and working in London. She studied English at Queen Mary’s University, London before pursuing a career as an artist in 2005. A desire to hang onto the bodies of dead animals led her to taxidermy where, under the tutelage of taxidermist George Jamieson, she began creating still life sculptures. She is a member of the Guild of Taxidermists. Polly Morgan has exhibited to critical acclaim in her solo shows The Exquisite Corpse, London (1997), Psychopomps, Haunch of Venison (2010), and the recent Dead Time at Derry’s Void Gallery (2011); and as part of group shows including Women Make Sculpture, Pangolin (2011) and All Visual Arts’ group shows The Age of the Marvellous (2009), and Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures (2010).
All Visual Arts is a hybrid arts enterprise founded by art expert Joe La Placa and Mike Platt in 2008. AVA’s goal is to build a major collection of contemporary art by representing and commissioning new work by today’s most exciting international developing artists
T +44 (0)20 7843 0412
Image above: Tessa Angus