Myth and material

Myth and material
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Sallyanne Morgan Missing Missing things 2021 ferrous cement 43(h) x 36(w) x 38(d)cm


Isabella Evangelisti visits the studio of sculptor Sallyanne Morgan and finds that there is potential for much larger, more expansive work

Sallyanne Morgan is a newcomer on the Irish art circuit, although she has been working and exhibiting her sculpture for many years in various countries around the world, latterly in Cambodia and Malta, from where she arrived home to Ireland in 2019.

Morgan received a technical rather than a fine-art training, which explains her focus on materials and on craft and product over a process-based art practice with its insistence on the primary importance of the concept. She comes across as having a strong work ethic and a rather workmanlike approach to her sculpture. Her technical background may also explain her interest in using various ferrous-cement materials in her sculptural works. This approach to the material sets up an interesting contradiction in the work. Its hardness contrasts with her very intuitive approach to what has often been regarded as a decorative subject matter, the female nude. She also uses clay, alone or in conjunction with the cement, and she often adds other materials, including marble dust, sand, fabric and pigment. Some pieces she adorns with text. Occasionally she includes what could be referred to as ‘found objects’, such as the detritus from musical instruments to be seen in Instrument I and Instrument II. The concrete produces an abraded, granular surface which is then waxed and polished, making it more tactile and light-reflective. There is no doubt that the industrial quality of the material contributes to her avoidance of banal prettiness in the figure. Her interest in the aesthetics of the female body is nuanced with the awareness of the social conditions that surround it. However, there is a poetic sensibility to her treatment of the female figure that is at once both moving and invigorating, both personal and universal. In her work she constantly references her own body or those of her daughters.

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