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Who's Art - Now

Deborah Schneebeli Morrell (BAA 1969-71)

'the bigger picture'

Mapman with Birds, 2002
Mixed Media collage with gouache, 22 x 30 inches
click on the image for a more detailed version

I have always made objects, piecing together disregarded things, as a child taking inspiration from the natural world: twigs, petals, leaves, seeds, earth, cloth, bones and wire, making dolls and figures, forming collections. The psychoanalyst Juliet Mitchell once wrote about my work, saying that ‘like a child’s intense and concentrated play, it emerges from the place where the hands and the mind’s imaginings are indistinguishable’.

I cannot say that it is always like that but that is what I aim for, part playing, part working, feeling the continual tension between form and meaning. This is especially so since I use so many historic or meaningful documents. I like to imagine the origins of what I find and its now possibly redundant earlier function or value. While cutting, tearing or placing papers, I find myself drawn into the fugitive histories of the written word, as in an unremarkable postcard from an English seaside resort before the first war inscribed ‘it is grand here’, or more poignantly in a letter written in 1932 by a mother in Berlin to a child sent to the country: ‘the little tree is heavy with peaches’. The date on a postmark can say so much; official stamps commemorate significant events or mark a more sinister purpose; postcards depict places now destroyed by bombs or re-development.

A faded blue envelope from Paris in 1950; a pale sepia 1928 magazine from Russia; the dense yellow sugar paper wrapping from an Italian cake — in my work I try to transform such elements, and from their disparate turbulence I try to make a stillness, sometimes narrative, occasionally abstract, allowing the colour of the papers to create unfamiliar landscapes and new kingdoms. In an essay to accompany a past exhibition of my collages, the poet Jehane Markham wrote: ‘A quality of quietness and calm pervades these works. Sometimes they are about a specific place, at other times they are more abstract, calling up references to dreams, memories and ways of childhood. Part homage, part description, part journal, part invention, these subtle works of art are informed by the richly divergent life of the artist who is intensely alive to the impulse of life and its brevity’.

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Who's Art Now - Felicity Aylieff
Prospectuses from 1950, 58, 61, 65, 67, 68, 70, 72 & 82          
Prospectuses from 1950, 58, 61, 65, 67, 68, 70, 72 & 82