Paul Greenfield MFA, ARPS

Trish Morrissey (1967)

“Morrissey has often produced large-scale photographs in which she appears. She increasingly uses archives and found material that she re-enacts or recreates afresh in her work. Her first experience of an archive was at her parents’ home – which was a large box full of photographs of her and her siblings; relevant press cuttings and an array of often unlabelled photographs of deceased relatives, and family events. This family memory box was to influence her work in many ways. Through it, Morrissey became interested in how we will be understood in the future from the archives we store today.” Camilla Brown

Front (2005-2007) deals with the notion of borders, boundaries, and the edge, using the family group and the beach setting as metaphors. For this work, the artist traveled to beaches in the UK and around Melbourne. She approached families and groups of friends who had made temporary encampments, or marked out territories and asked if she could be part of their family temporarily. Morrissey then took over the role or position of a woman within that group - usually the mother figure. She asked to take her place and to borrow her clothes. The woman then took over the artist's role and photographed her family using a 4x5 camera (which Morrissey had already carefully set up). While Morrissey, a stranger on the beach, nestled in with her loved ones. These highly performative photographs are shaped by chance encounters with strangers, and by what happens when physical and psychological boundaries are crossed. Ideas around the mythological creature the 'shape shifter' and the cuckoo are evoked. Each piece within the series is titled by the name of the woman who Morrissey replaced within the group.

Born in Dublin, Trish Morrissey now lives in the UK. Combining performance and self-portraiture with photography and film, her recent practice uses archives as a point of departure to explore themes such as class, family relationships, body and gesture, gender and role-play, power and control, and what it means to be human.

“What I love most about archives is that though they may claim to hold indelible truths, they are yet open to interpretation. History may give you the facts, but rarely the feelings of the people written about. What traces are left after people die? What do we really know about their lives as they themselves lived them, their own actual experience of living? The writer of historical fiction Hilary Mantel has said ‘As soon as we die, we are interpreted’ and ‘The task of historical fiction is to take the past out of the archive and to relocate it in a body’.” (Trish Morrissey)

Trish Morrissey: a certain slant of light was exhibited at Francesca Maffeo Gallery in June 2018. Comprising of thirteen photographs and two films Trish Morrissey: a certain slant of light responds to extensive research into archive material gathered about the last two female residents of Hestercombe House, a stately home and gardens in Somerset, England.

This body of work is a playful and rigorous inquiry of the lives of Elizabeth Maria Tyndale Warre (1790 -1872) and The Right Honourable Mrs. Constance Portman (1854 -1951). Living under the shroud of a patriarchal society, both women ran the estate independent of men. Morrissey uses archive materials as starting points to develop characters who are part fact, and part imagination. Trish Morrissey: a certain slant of light eloquently puts flesh on the bones of dry history.

Morrissey is currently working towards a major solo exhibition at Gustav Museum, Serlachius Fine Art Foundation, Finland, for 2022.
Back to Top