Born in 1980, Polly Morgan is a London-based artist whose talk I attended last week. She graduated in literature in 2002 having not planned a career in the arts. She nevertheless soon realized that she needed to fulfill her creative impulses and experimented in both photography and writing. Through these disciplines, she started meeting a great number of talented people. A risk? Certainly, but this opportunity may in some instances be a “double-edged sword”, an inspiring encounter that can fast become defeating. At least, that may be the case when you are yet to find your way.
She was working at the Shoreditch Electricity Showrooms, an East London bar; when she became its manager it came along with her first flat and the question of its decoration and a revelation: she wanted things to look dead. At this point in time, there was no plan, just a need to find and create the object that will be deemed satisfactory. This is how Polly Morgan became a sculpture whose primary material is taxidermy.
Death however is not the central point of her work. Her sculptures aim at transcending the material used. She points out that the animals lifelikeness can be more daunting than their death. She gave the example of a work she created where chicks are coming out of a coffin with their beaks opened. The mass they represent and their eagerness to live are to her the fear-provoking elements.
Having not seen the described artwork, I became curious to see one of her sculptures wondering whether the coffin in the given example did not have a role to play in the hefty atmosphere that might have prevailed in the room. The opportunity is currently given at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery. The gallery’s project area, called the Box, is currently inviting Polly Morgan. She decided to go beyond the limits of the box and a snake has pierced it to come through. The details of the taxidermy process are revealed for the first time. Death and escape do not prevail. A bird is sitting on a branch outside the box, free, maybe tweeting and it gives to the whole composition its balance and its sense of life.
Polly Morgan, The Box, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, until May 31st, 2014