27/09/2008 — 8/11/2008

Heather & Ivan Morison

The Opposite of All Those Things

Heather and Ivan Morison, 'The opposite of all those things' installation Grundy Art Gallery

photo: Jonathan Lynch

For their exhibition at Grundy Art Gallery, Heather & Ivan Morison created a body of entirely new work that pushed the boundaries of their practice.


At the centre of the exhibition were two large kite sculptures, entitled 'Beautiful, Wise and Loving' and 'The Opposite of All Those Things'. The artists’ starting point for these works was a visit to Quartzite, Arizona, USA. This small town in the desert holds the largest rockhound swap-meet shows in America. The artists travelled to the desert in search of mineral samples of uncanny natural geometry, with forms that looked like they had been machined to perfection. The rocks they found were used to inform the geometric structure of these sculptures, which the artists produced in collaboration with Kite Related Design, a company specializing in the manufacture of three dimensional fabric structures and kites. Whilst the sculptures retain the essence of the forms of the rocks, they are physically opposite: large, lightweight structures produced from man-made materials, and designed to fly. 'The Opposite of All Those Things', the larger of the two, is a construction of clashing cubic elements, measuring over five metres long and made from a dense black Ripstop fabric. It was flown on Fleetwood beach before the exhibition opened. In flight it becomes an ominous, heavy-looking black rock, a meteorite held floating in the sky moments before impact; in the gallery it retained its ominous presence, but was static, captured and held floating in space.

Also presented was a timber replica of one of the four parts of 'The Opposite of All Those Things'. Beautifully made from planed ash, this is a secondary sculptural translation of the cubic forms of the kite. Forms that were painstakingly designed to achieve flight have been incarcerated into wood.

A guardian performed a set of tasks during each day of the exhibition. At the centre of these tasks was to maintain a fire in the stove installed in the gallery space, which was used to heat water in a kettle to make tea for any visitor who wished to accept the guardian’s hospitality. The guardian was also there to invite and encourage visitors to browse the selection of apocalyptic and post apocalyptic novels contained within the most comprehensive catastrophe reference library in the UK. Housed on shelves built into two large purpose built plinths come workbenches; the library contains novels dealing with the effects of man made disasters, and the problems and ways of surviving natural disasters. Upon one plinth sat two large mud towers which functioned quite directly as a model for post apocalyptical survival, whilst on the other was a roughly slug shaped mud form, which invited elliptical readings and which the guardian sprayed with a mist of water every hour and gently stroked whilst whispering ‘I am so sorry’.

In the corner of one room were bundles of Blackpool’s Gazette newspaper from the day the exhibition opened. They acted as seats for visitors to rest upon whilst enjoying their tea or reading books from the library. And inside the paper are two announcements within the public notice section of the classifieds, which provided a key to the exhibition: ‘He was beautiful wise and loving’. ‘She was the opposite of all those things’.


Installation images from Heather and Ivan Morison The Opposite of All Those Things can be seen here.

The exhibition is funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and supported by The Henry Moore Foundation.