It would be easy to see death and depression in Claire Morgan‘s visual art installations. After all, they often feature dead bugs, taxidermy animals, and dead or dying plant matter. The components are arranged in visually stunning tableaux that impart a simultaneous feeling of wonder and horror. But at the heart of it, Morgan’s sculptures aren’t at all about the macabre; they’re about a celebration of nature, science, life and death.
Born in Belfast and now living in London, Claire Morgan’s educational background is in sculpture. Since graduating, she has worked in a world of contradictions. Each of her installations plays with ideas of time, layering the semi-permanent with the utterly momentary to create a complex scene of intense depth.
Some of Morgan’s earliest ideas were to work with materials that would change and decay so quickly that no two viewers would have the same experience of the piece. But her initial visions of working with ice, fruit, and live breeding insects were put aside by her desire to create freeze-frames of imagined moments. Her sculptures now portray strange, impossible scenes; they do still change, and some of them (such as those using fresh fruit) begin to decompose before the installations are even completed.
A recurring theme in Morgan’s work is complex geometric patterns. The extremely labor-intensive process required to create these patterns is in direct contrast with the temporal nature of the materials used in the installations. With torn garbage bags, natural seeds, fishing line, fresh fruit, blood, insects, animals, and a number of other intriguing materials, the complex shapes look almost like those found in nature, but at once more contrived and more chaotic.
Despite the overarching environmental themes in her work, Ms. Morgan says that she’s not trying to be political. She believes that we relate to our surroundings in a very unhealthy way, careening between fighting against nature and living with it peacefully but under very contrived conditions. Regardless, the artist says that if her work shows a connection between man and nature, it’s because the materials she uses are a direct product of the environment.
The precise patterns, unconventional materials, and combined starkness and warmth of Claire Morgan’s installations are truly original. Seeing the juxtaposition of the deader-than-dead taxidermy animals and the decaying-every-moment natural materials reminds us all of the fleeting nature of life itself. The artist is currently working on a number of private and public commissions, as well as continuing to develop her work for exhibits.