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Heather and Ivan Morison

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Car wrecks, discarded furniture and other urban detritus barricaded a central city street in Wellington, New Zealand on Sunday 14th December 2008.

The 24 hour temporary public artwork entitled Journée des barricades acts as a rupture in the everyday comings and goings of the city. In its barricade form, the sculpture might suggest associations with the history of political actions and social unrest, but as a collection of discarded consumer products it may also bring to mind questions about our environmental and economic future. This new commission is the latest in the Morisons' ongoing investigation into future catastrophic scenarios and their social implications.


Attracted by Folkestone’s connection with H.G. Wells, the Morisons have constructed a mobile Science Fiction library in the style of a 1970s Californian House Truck.
Made popular in America during the Hippy movement, these house trucks, similar to Gypsy caravans, are a symbol of freedom and a nomadic self-sufficient lifestyle. Following this tradition the Morison's version is hand built using Douglas fir from their arboretum in Wales onto a 1955 Green Goddess, ex army fire engine.
Inside, the truck houses hundreds of Science Fiction classics as well as soft sci-fi furnishings. It is staffed by a local Science Fiction enthusiast.

Heather and Ivan Morison

Jessica Lack,
Wednesday 19 November 2008

Quartzsite, Arizona is the very definition of a one-horse town. An arid dust bowl covered in mobile homes and roadhouses inhabited by retired sun seekers and wanderers who make a living flogging bric-a-brac at the annual mineral fairs. It once had a busy mining industry, attracting settlers from all over America, but now it attracts aliens, who seem particularly fascinated by the area's lonesome appeal.
Last year there were several hundred sightings of UFOs.

Artists Heather and Ivan Morison used Quartzsite as the setting for a slide show about the first travellers who made a perilous drive across America in timber house trucks. The work was called Dark Star and guilefully mixed these nomadic aliens journeying through Indian country with today's supernatural encounters. The photographs featured cumbersome crystalline forms hovering ungainly over the desert, casting shadows across the caravans and debris left by visitors. This manipulation of historical truth and fiction is becoming synonymous with the Morisons.

Since graduating Heather and Ivan Morison have been immersed in an epic semi-fictional drama. It could have started with their garden, from which the duo would send postcards to art world insiders detailing its fictional progress, or it could have begun with their marriage, also treated in a similar fashion. But, like all good storytellers, the garden got too small for their imaginations, so they set off on an odyssey across the world. The postcards continued, although they were even more dramatic, like the one from the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania that read, "Heather Morison is dreadfully afraid. Ivan said she was safe with him, but he is the reason she has come so far".
They also documented their travels by photographing interesting trees in China and writing a science fiction story on a cargo ship bound for New Zealand. Some of their projects fail, like their attempt to write a skywriting novel, but, they are still epic failures, as romantic and aspirational as Icarus. Last winter they grew and then distributed 10,000 flowers in Bloomberg's headquarters in London's financial district, an idealistically hippy expression of love incongruous with the cut-throat world of economic enterprise.

Why we like them? For Tales of Space and Time, a time-travelling truck built in honour of HG Wells, inside it is a science fiction library kitted out in futuristic furniture and staffed by a sci-fi enthusiast.

Man-made invasion: From destabilising ecosystems to natural disasters, the duo have now compiled a library of apocalyptic novels and guides on how to survive in a post-cataclysmic world.

Green fingers: In 2005 they acquired ancient woodland in north Wales that they are slowly transforming into an arboretum. They plan to be buried there when they die. Heather wants a big headstone and Ivan wants to have his body put in a rocket and shot out of a tower.

Metro, 19 February 2007

We're all a bit wild at art
By Fiona MacDonald

Look around you: that commuter with earphones might be communing with nature under your very nose, if artists Heather and Ivan Morison have anything to do with it.
The pair are turning us all into David Attenboroughs as part of their Zoorama project.
Each week in 2007, they will be releasing podcasts with British Library Sound Archive recordings of migratory animals such as the blue wildebeest, California sea lion, Humboldt penguin and Manx shearwater.
While undertaking their own daily migrations, commuters can listen to elephants trumpet in Namibia and moose bellow in Canada.
Alternatively, they can hear animal calls mingling with platform announcements at London's Knightsbridge Tube station.
By injecting the sounds of wildlife into city life, the Morisons evoke green issues with an immediacy that doesn't need apocalyptic headlines.
Their ability to reach the parts that others can't is increasingly in demand.
While economists and financial markets pray at the altar of Sir Nicholas Stern, politicians look to Al Gore's travelling slideshow and scientists reach a consensus on the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, artists are gaining prominence in the global front against climate change.
Some might argue that it's not the role of artists to take a stance or get drawn into activism, yet their views could have a far wider reach than those of the suits or labcoats who have dominated global warming debates.
And, unlikely as it may seem, their work often addresses issues that fall under the eco banner.
The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA) recognised this fact two years ago when it set up an arts and ecology programme. Its aim is not to turn artists into commentators; instead, it brings under one umbrella what is already happening so that people can see the green movement in a new light - and through different senses
'There seems to be a yearning for a perspective that isn't confined to climate change graphs or exhortations for us to stop flying or the hunger of commerce to locate a new market place,' says programme director Michaela Crimmin.
Artists explore what's in between. Maybe this is where the answers will be.'
Heather Morison took part in the RSA's arts and ecology conference in December, along with other artists who use the intimacy of the podcast to reinterpret our surroundings.
And as the bison snuffling shows, we can be sure that whatever they come up with won't involve many graphs.

Heather & Ivan Morison
United Kingdom

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Web Links
Heather & Ivan Morison
Represented by Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London
Heather & Ivan Morison representing Wales at Venice Biennale 2007
Journée des barricades - 1 day Sculpture, New Zealand
FolkestoneTriennial 2008
CAAC Sevilla
Eastside Projects, Birmingham
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