Sophie Morrish studied at the Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art. She moved to Scotland in the mid-1990s and is now based in North Uist. She has recently returned form a residency in the Peruvian Amazon.
All of my work is underpinned by a deep fascination with the natural world, and most especially by how we perceive our place within it. For the last twenty years I have lived in wild and rural locations across Scotland, walking and exploring, employing instinctive curiosity and close attentiveness to natural phenomena to inform the development of my ideas.
This piece, Biomass NU (20072014), is an installation commissioned by Emma Nicolson of Atlas Arts in 2015. For me, it is a pivotal work, coming as it did soon after my decision to leave academia and focus full time on my creative practice. (During my career I have taught at institutions as diverse as Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Art, the Glasgow School of Art and Brixton Prison, London.)
Constructed from faunal remains collected on North Uist between 2007 and 2014, Biomass is in one sense a portrait of the diversity of nature to be found on the island. But it also serves as a memento mori, and as a call to resist anthropocentric concerns and acknowledge the importance of the island and its marine environs as habitat to all nature.
By avoiding taxonomic arrangement and working with each element for its own sake (as individuals as opposed to examples of species), scientific hierarchies have been avoided and the interconnectedness of all nature is reinforced.
Considering form, colour and scale, the work may also be read as a drawing – individual, inherent aesthetic qualities inviting viewers into closer proximity with the underlying environmental concerns of the piece.