Derek Morris

Born in: 1940, Birmingham, UK
Lives in: Norwich, UK
Education: First Class Honours Degree in Sculpture, University of Durham, UK.
Hatton Scholarship, University of Durham, UK.
Describe your art in three words: Coloured Wall Sculptures
See More Work:

Same Old Pink and Green, 2020 - Mixed media 46 x 38 x 12 cm

"I work within the European tradition of Constructed art. I consider my work to be Concrete rather than Abstract, as exemplified by The Arps and Max Bill. I am concerned with the spaces that exist between ourselves and the walls which surround us during our lives, and call my works wall sculptures rather than reliefs. Apart from particular forms, colour becomes increasingly important in the works."

What themes does your work involve?
My major themes are based upon the underlying geometry of the physical world, its relationship to our existence and the influence of colour on our spiritual and emotional lives.
Describe your creative process.
I always begin by creating a collage which is freely developed at the scale I am considering, using hand painted and bought coloured paper. This is the most volatile and uncertain part of my exploration, although change is always possible throughout the making process later on. Having arrived at a plan for the work, I then make paper patterns for each element, and proceed to construct individual pieces out of best grade plywood. These are glued and screwed for strength, before being individually painted according to the collage. Occasionally, plastic mirror or silver leaf enter the game at this point, when change can still take place before all the units are assembled into the whole construction. Colour change can still happen at this late stage.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I come from a family of makers, my father a craftsman, my mother a weaver and embroiderer and my sister a jeweller. Consequently it was inevitable that I became a maker too. I have over time been influenced by many things, beginning with a childhood love of churches and their architecture. In my teens I discovered Cezanne and Cubism - both painters and sculptors, and was passionate about Brancusi. I studied Hans Arp at University, and later discovered the American Minimalists, in particular Don Judd and James Tyrrell. Making art is central to my being. I make art because it makes sense of the world I inhabit. If I cannot enter my studio on a regular basis, my life becomes disjointed and lacking in serious purpose.
What are your goals and plans as an artist in 2023?
To hope that my health and energy remain sufficient for me to continue working.
How do recent advancements in technology affect your art practice? How may recent developments in Artificial Intelligence (image generator software) affect the definition of fine art?
Apart from using my computer occasionally for producing images while working, I do not use Digital technology at all. The changes ahead are unthinkable to me, as the prospects for the continuation of genuine art look extremely bleak. Perhaps these changes will simply make handmade art increasingly valuable, so the prices that have amazed us all for many years will become even more ridiculous.
What is the role of the artist today?
My position - due to my age and traditional training - sees the artist's role differently from the views held by much younger people. Apart from the huge effect that the digital world is having both on art and the attitudes of artists, the development of cultural views that see it increasingly as part of social benefits to much wider audiences, is also changing the nature of art itself. But with the addition of the mind blowing changes that, through A I, are already altering out of all recognition definitions of what art is, the future for artists and art look unrecognisable to me.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Good art appears when an individual's purpose and mastery of their chosen means of creation come together in harmony. This sounds logical, but there must always be an indefinable extra - perhaps called imagination or spirituality, which carries the work onto another plane. Greatness comes when all these elements fuse into a homogenous whole.
Seven Colour Construction, 2020 - Mixed media 43 x 48 x 15 cm
Constellation No.1, 2021 - Mixed media 62 x 56 x 8 cm
Oranges and Blues, 2021 - Mixed media 84 x 57 x 7.5 cm
Constellation No.2, 2021 - Mixed media 60 x 55 x 10 cm


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

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