SSA Featured Artist-Mary Morrison

We hope you enjoy the delicacy and depth of SSA featured artist Mary Morrison’s work as much as we do.

Tell us what got you into art – how you got started – what first excited you.

I grew up on the island of Scalpay and my main inspiration early on was my mother –  trained as a nurse, she drew and painted throughout my childhood. In primary school we had an art teacher – Liz MacLean – who came over on the ferry once a week, and the art room was just a really special experience and environment, unlike anywhere else in the school, and I loved that.  Following on from this, my secondary school art teachers – Willie Fulton and Gordon Patterson – had a really positive influence, and I think that’s what led me to go to art school.  

Where do you make your work?

In WASPS Studios in Selkirk – there are 13 artists based in this former textile mill.  Having the space at WASPS has been really important to me and the development of my work.  The studios are semi open-plan and although we all work very differently, there is a lot of peer exchange and support and we work together on studio events.

What are your main influences and sources of inspiration?

Currently – I guess I’m trying to ‘map an identity’ in much of my work, and this is connected with where I grew up.   The written word is often a starting point for imagery –  poetry in particular.  I find the work of Kenneth White and the Sufi poet Rumi for example, very inspiring, though the connection with the visual image can often be quite tangential. Materials are very important to me too, the tactile nature of paint, surface, onto which I draw elements of notation.

Is there some piece of advice / information / knowledge that you’d like to share?

Sometimes when you’re not sure what’s going on, that’s often when the best work comes!   I think it’s about relinquishing a more conscious control, and being open to where things take you.

Tell us about a project you are working on at present?

‘Bàrd Mhealboist’ (the Melbost Bard):  I’m currently involved, as one of 6 artists, in a project which combines Gaelic poetry, music and the visual arts.   The project focuses on the songs of the Melbost Bard – Murdo MacFarlane.   I’m currently researching his work and life, looking at the role of Bards in rural communities, and developing a series of images which will be exhibited later this year.   The project is co-ordinated by Gaelic arts organisation Ceòl ‘s Craic.

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