Studio Morison at Wicken Fen

Covid-19 Update: Wicken Fen Nature Reserve and MOTHER... are open but please check the National Trust website before visiting, here.

MOTHER.. was commissioned by Wysing as part of the programme New Geographies, with funding from Arts Council England and the National Trust.

MOTHER… is an artwork by artists Heather and Ivan Morison of Studio Morison that engages with the connections between the natural world and our mental health. The work is inspired by writer Richard Mabey’s book ‘Nature Cure’, in which he recovers from severe depression through walking, watching and writing about the Eastern region’s beautiful and unexplored landscapes.

It has been commissioned by Wysing as part of the region-wide arts commissioning programme, New Geographies, which aims to bring contemporary art to unexpected places in the East of England. All locations for art works were nominated by members of the public – in this case Wicken Fen suggested for its “sublime peaty landscape”.

MOTHER… is a sculptural structure that has been created specifically for this important area of wild fenland.

To find MOTHER... please go to the main car park at Lode Lane, Wicken Fen. It is a 20 minute walk to the structure from there, and there are direction signs. Access to MOTHER... is free and does not require entry payment. The car park costs £3 per day.

MOTHER… references local building traditions, materials and architectural vernacular to root the structure in the landscape it is a part of. The form is an interpretation of the remarkable hayricks once found dotting this countryside. The timber used in the framing was felled from the artists own forest and milled by the artists at their workshops. The walls and roof are made from local straw, the thatching of which has been done in the traditional style by a master thatcher whose first job as an apprentice was to thatch a hayrick on this very site.

The work, with its deep entranceways, ceiling oculus and high double layered conical ceiling, is an architectural space to enter; re-framing visitors’ experience of the landscape of Wicken Fen, the sky, the light and the materials that surround them.

The vessel like form of the sculpture, alongside its title, connoting universal ideas of protection, nurturing, and birth.

The Artists
The Morisons, Heather Peak Morison (b. UK, 1973) and Ivan Morison (b. Turkey, 1974) have established an ambitious collaborative practice over the past fifteen years that transcends the divisions between art, architecture and theatre. They are co-directors of STUDIO MORISON, their artist led creative practice which supports and realizes their ideas and the people they work with. Central to their work is the involvement with spaces of human coexistence and with the communities that exist or may exist there. They have often engaged with public space, for example in 2010 with Plaza. Commissioned by Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite this artwork talks about the failure of modern cities to accommodate the needs of all people. Other works, like Sleepers Awake (2014, Museum of Modern Art, Sydney) are transitory works, whose alteration and ephemerality create starting points for open narratives.

New Geographies
New Geographies is a three-year project, funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, to create a new map of the East of England based on personal thoughts, reflections and stories of unexplored or overlooked places, rather than on historic or economical centres. The first phase of the project invited members of the public to nominate locations for the map in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, over a three-month period in the Summer of 2017. This resulted in over 270 nominations. Via an international open call, artists were then invited to submit proposals for artworks inspired by the nominated locations. The artists selected are: Maria Anastassiou, David Blandy, Marcus Coates, Cooking Sections, Ian Giles, Krijn de Koning, susan pui san lok, Heather and Ivan Morison, Stuart Whipps and Laura Wilson. Each artist is working closely on the realisation of their work with one of the New Geographies partner institutions. The New Geographies partner institutions are Art Exchange, University of Essex Colchester; East GalleryNUA, Norwich University of the Arts; Firstsite, Colchester; Focal Point Gallery, Southend; Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge; Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery; originalprojects; Great Yarmouth; UH Arts, University of Hertfordshire; and Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire.