Winner of the Society’s First Plinth: Public Art Award, Morgan’s sculpture – her largest to date is shown on the sculpture terrace at the newly restored Dora House until 29th April, before being sited at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Taking its title from the name given to any conduit with a free surface, OPEN! CHANNEL! FLOW! consists of two triangles of furrowed concrete adorned with painted, iridescent fibreglass casts of snakes that spill from the crevices and connect the two. Through the use of materials commonly used in boatbuilding and nail decoration, Morgan uses modern technology to mimic nature at its most dazzling and obfuscatory. The snakes are moulded into their concrete trenches, with their scales reflecting light as rainbows. The sculpture represents how we are all shaped and constrained by our environment: the refracted light is the energy, ebb and flow of ideas, and the serpentine forms embody all life; at points intertwining, repelling and jostling for position.
Running concurrently is False Flags an exhibition where camouflage, mimicry and subterfuge are the inspiration for a series of painted snakeskin-textured sculptures, photographs and ceramic-based sculptural works which explore the politicisation of bodily adornments, drawing parallels between military, cultural and primal warfare.
Polly Morgan, OPEN! CHANNEL! FLOW! | Polly Morgan & Leena Similu, False Flags – 29th April 2023,
Royal Society of Sculptors, www.sculptors.org.uk
The First Plinth: Public Art Award and OPEN! CHANNEL! FLOW! have been made possible through generous support of the Mirisch and Lebenheim Charitable Foundation.
About the artist
Polly Morgan (b.1980) is a British artist living and working in London. She is self-taught with no formal education in art and rose to attention after learning taxidermy in 2004 when she began to dismantle taxidermy traditions, creating unsettling still lives where the animal was observed in death rather than life. Recent works, making use of her model-making and painting skills, are illusory sculptures that combine taxidermy with cast objects and painted trompe l’oeil veneers and lie somewhere between figuration and abstraction. Her work has been shown internationally and belongs in many notable collections including the Zabludowicz Collection, Thomas Olbricht, David Roberts Art Foundation and The New Art Gallery Walsall. She was chosen to represent Britain in Women to Watch 2015 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington and her work Departures was featured in the Thames and Hudson book 100 Works of Art that will Define our Age.