In conversation with Morgan Shimeld
Recently the OTOMYS team sat down with sculptor Morgan Shimeld. Having recently dropped off two exceptional works to the gallery, Fold and Triplex, we were excited to discover more about Morgan’s practice.
OTOMYS: How long have you been working with metal for?
Morgan: I graduated art school in 2002 and have been making art ever since. My major at university was glass - I was in a glass studio, casting glass and exploring this medium. I had a couple of solo exhibitions with my glass work, but I found it to be a very long process that did not have a huge Australian market. To make a career out of that would have been difficult. During this time, I was also working in a bronze foundry. Here I was meeting artists regularly and saw another side to being an artist. It also gave me an intimate knowledge of the material and sparked my passion for bronze. As I developed my creative practice, I realised I could have a better dialogue with metal than what I could have with glass, and have been working with metal ever since!
OTOMYS: Tell us more about where you work and your home in the beautiful blue mountains. Is your studio on your property?
Morgan: I actually have two studios! Both are in the blue mountains, with one at home and the other located on another property we have. During COVID it was difficult for me to do work from purely home, and I quickly realised that I needed another space to work in. This realisation also allowed me to separate my bronze work from my steel work, which was extremely beneficial because the two processes run the risk of contaminating each other. It also allowed me to leave projects out and have multiple pieces going at the same time.
OTOMYS: Tell me more about working with bronze and working with steel. How are these processes different?
Morgan: I purchase the bronze in sheets and have them cut up to specific sizes before welding the sheets together. I primarily create my cube formations from steel wire. I get wire and cut the pieces up and weld them together. It is the same building process but quite a different aesthetic. It is a special material to work with. It is great to weld and has a lovely finish. Also, you can get beautiful patinas for Bronze. The patina on Fold, for example, is called honey.
OTOMYS: I’ve noticed some of your works have this extraordinary bright, opaque, coloured varnish. What drew you to working with these amazing bright colours?
Morgan: To achieve these colours I use a polymer paint. I think the primary colours compliment the geometric forms I create well. I prefer matte and satin surfaces. So, when I’ve created pieces like this, I make sure I specify a satin finish.
OTOMYS: When you create your forms what level of planning goes into them?
Morgan: They are very intuitive. I start with Styrofoam, cutting it into different shapes that I assemble, reassemble, and turn over. It is a very spontaneous process. With the Passage series, I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted to explore and achieve. But with the new Fold series, I worked with a different approach. As opposed to Passage where everything was internal, with Fold I am trying to bring things out. This has been a bit trickier to resolve, and I ended up with a lot of Styrofoam on the floor, but it was worth the struggle. Quite often I will get started on a piece and have a creative block and need to put that to the side and work on something else before being able to come back to it. Sometimes it is a matter of turning it over and realising it has a new energy from a different angle. From there I will continue to add and take away from the sculpture, finessing the form. Because of the nature of these shapes there are so many different forms and perspectives that can be discovered as you navigate your way around the sculpture.
OTOMYS: You’ve said in the past how your work aims to create a relationship between the viewer and the space in-between. Can you tell us more about this relationship?
Morgan: I like my work to have a sense of being grounded, and a purpose. Because the work is quite hard edged and strong in its volume, I want it to feel like it has a natural place within space. Inviting people to walk around the work and interact with it is important. The work must reveal something to the viewer. Allowing the viewer to uncover new forms and angels as they observe the artwork is a special experience my work creates.
OTOMYS: Walking around Fold you do experience new forms as you view the work from different angles. There is a softness to it, despite the sharp edges of the bronze, the form almost resembles a spiral and has an organic feeling.
Morgan: Yeah, these works are pushing that idea of creating an organic form through hard-edge geometric space. I guess these works are moving more towards the cube formations that have quite an organic flow to them. Pulling that element into the bronze works has been an exciting experiment.
October 26, 2022