Veteran artist Julia Morison, nationally and internationally renowned for her five-decades-long practice, has continued to remain highly inventive, both conceptually and materially. Having presented an extensive survey exhibition, In hindsight, at Trish Clark Gallery in late 2022, we are delighted to present a significant new body of Morison’s work at Aotearoa Art Fair 2023. The seven large-scale Segue paintings and the twelve small discrete Pivot paintings are emblematic of Morison’s persistent parallel investigations of form over decades. She has more often tested viewers’ assumptions and associations through her broad use of materials as varied as blood, excrement, gold, lead, clay, wood, hair, beeswax and rust and wide-ranging formal expression, while remaining devoted to a core, and continuously productive, thematic structure. As stated by noted curator and writer Justin Paton, “Morison’s use of her sources is creative, and wilfully idiosyncratic – she calls them ‘a skeleton you can spin off from’ – one of the pleasures offered by her art [over] decades, is watching her system mutate and ramify in unpredictable ways”.
There are few artists working in New Zealand whose work so aptly suits the descriptor ‘embodied knowledge’; always highly inventive conceptually and materially, Morison elicits a potent physical connection between her work and the viewer. Now 70, Morison has exhibited extensively throughout New Zealand and internationally. A graduate of the University of Canterbury Ilam School of Fine Arts in 1975, she was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in 1988 and undertook the year-long Moët & Chandon contemporary art Residency in Epernay, France in 1990, where she continued to live and work until her return to Christchurch in 1999 to take up the position of senior lecturer in painting at her alumna university, a position she held until 2007. Appointed a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate in 2005, Morison’s practice was also the subject of a major survey exhibition, jointly organised by the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, in 2006-07: A loop around a loop: Julia Morison. Her work was included in the 9th Biennale of Sydney: The Boundary Rider (1992); KP5 Biennale: Jardins Secrets at L’hopital Charles Foix, Paris (1999); the 2nd Auckland Triennial: Public/Private: Tumatanui/Tumataiti at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki (2004); and the 17th Biennale of Sydney: The Beauty of Distance, Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age (2010); and her notable collaboration with Australian designer Martin Grant, Material Evidence: 100-headless woman, was seen at Judith Clarke Gallery, London (1998), Artspace at the Adelaide Festival (1998), and Selfridges, London (1999). Her works are included in all major New Zealand public Collections, and she was appointed an Officer of the Order of New Zealand, Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2018.
Julia Morison lives and works in Christchurch, New Zealand.