Ivan Morison


  • Ivan Morison Portrait
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Visiting Lecturer

  • Ivan Morison supervises Sculpture students in the School of Arts & Humanities at the Royal College of Art. 

  • Biography

  • Ivan Morison has established an ambitious collaborative practice over the past decade that transcends the divisions between art, architecture and theatre.

    Ivan Morison, working with Heather Peak, makes art as an active engagement with materials, histories, sites and processes, producing sculpture, plays, photographs, installations and buildings, and site-specific projects internationally. Morison and Peak are known for their architectural structures that relate to ideas of escape, play, shelter and refuge, the transformation of the modern city, weight and levity, solidity and transparency; the construction of which are very often part of a broad community effort. 

    Heather and Ivan Morison have exhibited widely across UK, Europe, Australia, Canada and the USA. Key projects include: Sleepers Awake, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2014; All’s Well That Ends, Schauspielhaus Bochum, Germany; Smile All the While, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 2014; Shadow Curriculum, South London Gallery, London, 2014; Skirt of the Black Mouth, Tate Modern, London, 2012-15; Nuclear Family, National Theatre of Wales, 2013; Black Pleasure, Eastside Projects, Birmingham 2013; Anna, The Hepworth, Wakefield, 2012; Cave, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 2012; Black Pig Lodge, Southbank Centre, London, 2011; Mr. Clevver, Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania, Australia, 2011; Plaza, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, 2010; The Black Line Void, Derry, Northern Ireland, 2009; Black Cloud, Situations, Bristol, 2009; Journée des Barricades, One Day Sculpture, Wellington, New Zealand,2008; And So it Goes, representing Wales at the 52nd Venice Biennial, 2007.

    Their book, Falling into Place, a fictionalized account of their large architectural shelter works, was published by Bookworks in 2009, and was made into an audio book by Palaver Press, New York in 2014.  A new anthology of their work will be published in 2016 and is edited by Claire Doherty and Gavin Wade.

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  • Practice

  • Morison’s central preoccupation has always been how we navigate catastrophe and the essential violence of change, from a wider social view to how individuals transcend moments of personal calamity.

    The works range across a diverse set of media and approaches which sees it manifest itself both within the gallery but also within wider physical and social arenas, from a nomadic theatre company to the creation of large-scale public spaces, explicitly engaging in the dialogue around redefining the limitations of where and how it is possible for artists to work

    Studio Morison, a structure created to support and realise the work of Ivan Morison, Heather Peak and the people they work with, sets out in its statement of intent that:

    'Artists now work in a vastly expanded field, transcending traditional divisions within the creative arts, acting in collaboration with many other areas of creativity, thought and commerce, often directly addressing major societal questions of our time.

    We are living in times of great change in which opportunity and dignity are being stripped away from individuals and communities.

    It is essential that we seize control of the forces of change to shape them into the future we want.

    On a societal level STUDIO MORISON is working to re-establish aspects of civic life that governments and business now claim are no longer their responsibilities.

    On a human level we look to bring meaning, beauty and purpose into everyday life.

    As artists we support other artists, working together to affect more meaningful change.

    STUDIO MORISON is concerned with creating a blueprint for happiness.'

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Selected Solo Exhibitions and Projects 


    Heart of Glass, St Helens (long term socially engaged project)

    Super Slow Way, Burnley (long term socially engaged project)

    LOOK! LOOK! LOOK! Berrington Hall, National Trust (commission and exhibition)

    Childs Work, Briarwood School, commissioned by Bristol City Council through Arnolfini, (permanent commission)

    Artists House, Ixia and Eastside Projects (permanent commission)

    The Clearing, Forestry Commission at Kielder Water

    Bronze House, Future Cities, Cambridge (permanent commission)

    Cambridge Library (permanent commission)

    LMOLMA, Public art Fund, New York (temporary commission)


    Love Me or Leave Me Alone, Cardiff Bay, commissioned by Igloo and Chapter, Cardiff (permanent commission)

    Sky Grey / Shell Pink, Koh Rong Samloen, Cambodia (permanent commission)

    Script commission, Film Agency Wales

    Lead artist, Blueprint for Happiness, Banff Centre, Canada

    Lightening Tree, South London Gallery, London


    All’s Well That Ends, Urbane Kunst Ruhr / Schauspielhaus Bochum, Bochum, Germany

    Shadow Curriculum, commissioned by the South London Gallery, London (permanent commission for Highshore School)

    Knives are Mothers, WORKS|PROJECTS, Bristol

    Sleepers Awake, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

    Smile all the While, Whitechapel Gallery, London


    Slyk Chaynjis, Diverse Works, Houston

    Nuclear Family, commissioned by National Theatre of Wales (touring)

    Black Pleasure, Eastside Projects, Birmingham

    Cross and Cave, Queen Elizabeth II Park, London for LLDC (permanent commission)


    Skirt of the Black Mouth, Tate Modern (Permanent commission)

    Anna, The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield

    Cave, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes (Permanent commission)


    Little Shining Man, Dandara, St Helier, Jersey

    Sleepers Awake, Artlands, Sittingbourne

    Black Pig Lodge, The Southbank Centre, London

    Black Cloud, The Hepworth, Wakefield

    Mr. Clevver, Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania, Tasmania

    Consultant, Kielder Water, Cumbria, curated by Peter Sharp


    Plaza, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver

    Luna Park, commissioned by Chapter, Cardiff

    An Unreachable Country. A Long Way to Go, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth

    Frost King, Open Satellite, Seattle


    Falling Into Place, published by Bookworks, London*

    I hate her, I hate her, VOLTA NY, New York

    The Black Cloud, Situations, Bristol, including the performance Black Dog Times

    The Black Line, Void, Derry


    How to Survive (The Bad Years), Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto

    The Opposite of all those Things, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool 

    Selected Group Exhibitions


    Inside Cities: Art and the Built Environment, Arup Exhibition Space, London

    The Cleaving, Nuit Blanche, Toronto

    Sceance Fiction, Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre, Canada

    Cryropreservation, Syson Gallery, Nottingham


    You Are Lost, N34 Kunst Route, Drenthe, The Netherlands and Kinsale Arts Festival, Ireland*

    Puppet Show, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool and Gavle Konstcentrum, Sweden

    I lost her near Fantasy Island. Life has not been the same, Night at the Museum, Moscow

    In/Humano, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo De Monterrey, Mexico*


    Plan For a Ruin, Islington Mill, Salford

    Tipping Point, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton

    Puppet Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham

    Cacotopia, Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester


    Empire of Dirt, Radar, Loughborough

    On the edge of the world, British Council, Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Carmarthen


    The Narrative Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham

    As the World Turns, Anna Swartz Gallery, Sydney

    Poste Restante, Artspeak, Vancouver

    Poste Restante, Limoncello, London


    The Crystal Palace (Destroyed), WORKS|PROJECTS, Bristol

    The woods that see and hear, dertien hectare, ‘s-Hertogenbosch

    We have the mirrors, we have the plans, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno

    On the edge of the world, British Council, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

    Oasis, Bury St. Edmunds Art Gallery, Suffolk


    Trying to Cope with Things that aren’t Human, David Cunningham Projects, San Francisco, Air                          Gallery, Stoke and Cell Project Space, London*

    Mythologies, Haunch of Venison, London*

    Flower Power, Villa Giulia, Centro Ricerca Arte Attuale, Turin

    The Fields Sculpture Park, ART/OMI, New York State

    Radical Nature, Barbican, London*

    Of Vagrant Dwellers in the Houseless Woods, Or Gallery, Vancouver

    Modern Nature, K3 Project Space, Zurich

    Abstract Cabinet Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham

    Altered Sequence, E:vent Gallery, London

    The Boundary Layer, The Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie

    Utopia and Monument, Steirischer Herbst, Graz

    Tales of Space and Time, Contemporary Art Norwich09


    Fantasy Island, Eastside Projects, Birmingham

    Journée des barricades, One Day Sculpture, Wellington

    Dragged Down into Lower Case, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland

    The True Artist, Triangle France, Marseille, France

    This Is The Gallery and The Gallery Is Many Things, Eastside Projects, Birmingham

    Give Me Shelter, Attingham Park, Shrewsbury

    Let’s pretend we’re from the future, Margate Rocks, Margate

    Artfutures, Bloomberg Space, London

    Force and Beauty, Galerie Yukiko Kawase, Paris

    Tales in Space and Time, Folkestone Sculpture Triennale*

    I am so sorry. Goodbye, Tatton Park Biennale, Tatton Park, Manchester*

    Paraisos Indomitos / Untamed Paradises, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vigo, Spain and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla, Spain*, York Art Gallery, York


    * denotes an accompanying publication


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  • Research students

  • Joel Chan, Sarah Duyshart, Alla Malova, Hester Moriarity Thompson, Sam Gough-Yates, Sing Hang Tam, Youmee Hwang, Matthew Robertson, Yibei Zhang

Selected work


Current and recent research

(Works Illustrated in 'Selected Work' Section)


Aluminium, timber, steel, actors / 10x11x12m / Bochum, Germany
Commissioned by Urbane Künste Ruhr and Schauspielhaus Bochum

In the installation All’s Well That Ends theatrical moments are generated, a slowly developing improvisation unfolds, a psychological drama plays out, a slapstick comedy of donuts unravels, and a piece of absurd theatre is left. Thus is shown the emotional struggle of conciliating inner truths and public perception. Personal change becomes necessary in a situation of enforced transformation. 



Timber / 30x3x3m / Highshore School, London

How is the relationship between contemporary art and teaching practices currently framed? How can artists shape these relationships in new ways?

Shadow Curriculum, a major commission as part of SLG Local, unfolded in several chapters over the course of two years. The work took the pupils on a journey through the art making process incorporating field trips, tree felling, carving, tarring, processions, stallions, flags, myth making, installation and celebration.



Two actors / 9x12x15m / Diverse Works, Houston, USA

Slyk Chaynjis is an enigmatic tale about personal downfall and the subsequent reinvention of self, as told in six acts by a pair of unlikely traveling companions. Burdened by individual tragedies and personal failures, the characters are inextricably bound by their respective roles in a common trauma and in a shared quest for personal redemption.

Equal parts psychological drama, slapstick comedy, and absurdist theatre, Slyk Chaynjis charts a poignant struggle to reconcile internal truths with public perceptions, suggesting that descending into madness may be an unconscious act of survival.


Timber, concrete / 100x4x20m / Tate Modern, London

Skirt of the Black Mouth uses a sculptural element to define a new public space, while allowing glimpses of what lies behind. Characterised by a distinctively twisted arrangement of the wall, bench and path, it is a space stolen back from the Tate Modern Project construction site, dividing one world from another. Composed of light and dark, silences and shadows, contrasting materials and conflicting ideas, it will encourage visitors to begin to imagine what this space is, and what it might be in the future.      


Timber / 4x1x35m / Kinsale, Ireland

YOU ARE LOST announced itself in flames. As a flotilla of boats took audiences out on the water, around the historic site, ten oak letters lit the night skyline at James Fort, a beacon to guide the boats home, to pass the news, to signal for help; a fire set deliberately, a celebration and an invasion of a Fort captured. The ashy ruins remained for the duration of the festival, as a message of hope; the dawn after dark days and symbol of new beginnings.


Timber, acrylic, stove, guardian, other media / 5x6x10m / Tatton Park, Cheshire / Commissioned for Tatton Park Biennial and rebuilt for Radical Nature at the Barbican, London

I am so sorry. Goodbye comprises two intersecting geodesic spheres, hand-built from wood harvested from naturally fallen trees in Tatton Park, and functions as shelter, observatory and performance space, where visitors are served hibiscus tea. The ‘escape vehicle’ unifies two acts, of making and use, in a way that can be read as a complex set of social rituals.


Various industrial and domestic items / 8x21x10m / Wellington, New Zealand / Commissioned by Litmus Research Initiative, Massey University for One Day Sculpture

Car wrecks, discarded furniture and other urban detritus barricaded a central city street. In its barricade form, the sculpture might suggest associations with the history of political actions and social unrest, but as a collection of discarded consumer products it may also bring to mind questions about our environmental and economic future. In stark contrast to the sculpture’s grandiosity is its temporality - installed overnight between dusk and dawn, the work was in situ for just 24 hours before ‘disappearing’ overnight.


Timber / 7x13x20m / Victoria Park, Bristol, UK / Commissioned by Situations, Bristol and rebuilt at The Hepworth Wakefield

The large-scale pavilion structure was erected through a community barn-raising in Victoria Park, Bristol. The structure acted as performance venue that gathered around it a growing temporary community and was open for park users, local residents, groups and organisations to carry out their own events for free. The Black Cloud has been repositioned and modified in response to the architectural and industrial backdrop of The Hepworth Wakefield.

PLAZA, 2010

Timber / 12x11x20m / Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite, West Georgia Street, Vancouver / Commissioned by Vancouver Art Gallery

Plaza hovers between sculpture and architecture. Rising three stories high, the walls of the pavilion lean outwards towards the street as if they have been torqued in all directions by an extraordinary force. Plaza evokes a pivotal moment of architectural and societal transformation and metaphorically suggests that the mechanisms which underpin the modern city are far more fragile than we imagine. Its burnt surface and collapsing form infer a cautionary tale for the future, as well as an invocation to transform the modern city.

MR CLEVVER, 2010–13

Customised vehicles, fixtures, puppets, puppeteers / 3x2.5x12m /Tasmania, Australia / Commissioned by Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania (CAST), Hobart, Tasmania

Toured by National Theatre of Wales, 2013

Mr Clevver, a travelling sculptural artwork in the form of a puppet company, toured the less-travelled side roads of Tasmania. Word of mouth signalled the company’s arrival at rural settlements. A troupe of puppeteers performed puppet shows that blended factual recall with fiction, merging information into a narrative that built on the mythology of their own lives and also the lives of people they encountered.


Carbon fibre, 3D printed joint system, Cuben fibre / 3x5.5x4.5m / Jersey,

Channel Islands / Documentary video length 3 minutes / Private commission

Little Shining Man is a sculpture that has the potential for flight. The design of the structure is based around the tetra kites of Alexander Graham Bell, multiplied out into three colliding cubes. A double wing module has been duplicated and arranged into a tight cellular structural arrangement that appears as a heavy, un-flyable mass. The kite element flown in the image is one section of an arrangement of three, that come together to create the final piece of sculpture that is taken down to be flown once a year.


Fabric, helium, light rig / 12x12x12m / Sittingbourne, Kent / Commissioned by Artlands for Swale Borough Council.

Also shown by Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2013

As dusk falls the illuminated elliptical balloon form of Sleepers Awake appears low in the sky, far off in the estuary at the mouth of Milton Creek. It shines bright in the night sky, a strange visitor emitting an unworldly light, sinking slowly below the skyline as dawn breaks. Each successive evening it rises still higher in the sky and each day its moves closer along the Creek. For miles around it is visible in the wide-open skies of north Kent; a beacon for what lies beneath. People return night after night, ideas are germinated, a place transformed.