Miriam Morris enjoys a dual career as a visual artist and professional musician. In 2005 she collaborated with her partner Alan Loney by illustrating a limited edition book, New leaf, with poems by Loney, published by Electio Editions, Melbourne. Since then she has exhibited regularly in Melbourne, Canberra and country Victoria. 2007 saw her second collaboration with Loney with Zephyros: the book untitled, a larger project with five original acrylic ink pictures in a limited edition of 30. Miriam’s artwork is, for the most part, abstract. Her works on paper are largely in acrylic inks while her canvasses use acrylic paint. In 2006 she held her first solo exhibition at Intrude Contemporary Art in Malvern and had a second exhibition in Canberra at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre in October 2006 where she also gave a solo viola da gamba recital.
In 2007 Miriam exhibited and performed at Kinross House, Toorak and in 2008 at The Wodonga Regional Gallery. She has also participated in group exhibitions at the Firestation Print Workshop in Armadale and at Art 06 in the Exhibition Building, Melbourne. Miriam has given art/music workshops at the Australian National Academy of Music and in 2009 she received a grant from the Nillumbik Shire Council to work and perform with primary and secondary students in the field of graphic scores resulting in a concert and exhibition at Montsalvat. Alongside her art practice, Miriam performs nationally and internationally in the field of early music whilst teaching the viola da gamba and cello at the University of Melbourne and in her private studio. In 2011 she held an exhibition of fine pen drawings, Drawn to the Paper at BSG, (Brunswick Street Gallery) Fitzroy, and an exhibition of paintings on paper and canvas, Shades of Light at the Steps Gallery, Carlton South. She has recently completed another collaboration with Alan Loney for Electio Editions, If not in Paint, by Melbourne poet, Marion May Campbell.
These 12 images consist of a varied body of work developed over the last three years. The work varies in scale and medium with the larger works being acrylic paintings on rectangular and round canvas, and the smaller, acrylic paint and ink drawings on paper. Having been a musician all my working life and an active visual artist since 2005 I am struck by the permanence of a finished artwork in comparison to the impermanence of performing live music. There are many parallels with music and art that I find very balancing in my working life. These can most easily be quantified in the tactile reaction to the tools and to the rhythmic gesture of the stroke.
Concerts, exhibitions and particular bodies of work fulfill the means of thematic planning, preparation and a bringing together for public appraisal. Often there is no particular theme – more an opportunity to contemplate on the threads that bind the work. I enjoy exploration of colour relationships and reflection. Light on dark, dark on light – directional markings that change how the light bounces off the surface of the painting dependent on the position of the viewer. I have mostly favoured the use of palette knives for sharp strokes cutting in to the paint surface to create movement and depth of field, often scraping back the layers to form the texture and composition.
My work, whether I am painting, drawing or illustrating books, shuttles between the abstract and the figurative where elements can be seen to be clear or ambivalent. On rare occasions I plan the painting or drawing, but more often follow my instincts and discover the emerging work and what, if anything, it might relate to. Most titles are assigned latterly.
As with the concert programme, grouping and juxtaposition of works of an exhibition are all-important. Each listener hears music differently, and as far as my artwork is concerned, I leave its relevance up to the understanding of the viewer.
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