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Tree Houses for Swamp Dwellers | 2013

by Julia Morison.

Consisting of 10 modular objects that read and function both as trees and as houses, Julia Morison’s work can be engaged with and explored on many levels.

The work incorporates light and plant forms, and creates spaces within itself for reflection and play. This significant legacy piece will remain as a permanent, relocatable work in Christchurch City.


Julia Morison

Born 1952, Pahiatua, New Zealand. Based in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Julia Morison’s ongoing practice — incorporating painting, sculpture, photography and installation — is consistently underpinned by a complex symbolic system. Her vocabulary is inspired by esoteric and spiritual sources, such as Hermeticism, the Kabbalah, alchemy and memory systems. Morison’s work has come to represent her own intellectual order through an interweaving of symbol, material and philosophy, re-interpreting or reviewing for a contemporary context. Morison’s work invites us to reflect on the ways structures manipulate the way we see things, with her interpretations offering a metaphor for other such systems and encouraging us to consider systems themselves.

Julia Morison has exhibited extensively within New Zealand and internationally for over three decades. She has been the recipient of many key awards, grants and residencies. Graduating first with Diploma in Graphic Design from Wellington Polytechnic School of Design, at Massey University she then gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1975. In 1988 she was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship and in 1990 she undertook the Möet and Chandon contemporary art residency in Avize, France. She subsequently remained in France for the next 10 years. In 1999 Morison returned to Christchurch and was appointed Senior Lecturer in painting at the University of Canterbury. In 2005 Morison received a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate Award and in 2012 she was inducted into the Massey University Hall of Fame. Her exhibition Meet Me on the Other Side showed at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu and Wellington City Gallery in 2012, and at Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland, in 2012. Her Myriorama has been reworked in numerous configurations across many locations, including at the Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui, 2011; the 17th Biennale of Sydney, 2010; the Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, 2009 and the Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga in 2010. Her major survey exhibition, Julia Morison: a loop around a loop, was also accompanied by a substantial monograph produced by the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu and Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2006. Julia Morison was a member of the curatorial group for SCAPE 6. She is represented by Two Rooms, Auckland, and Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch.

Commissioned by: The Christchurch City Council

Produced by: SCAPE Public Art

Generously Supported by:  The Christchurch City Council, Todd Foundation, Hawkins Construction, Anderson Lloyd Lawyers, Aotea Electrical, CCDU, CERA, Creative New Zealand, Energy Light, Fulton hogan, JB Joinery, Powerbase, Radcliffe Electrical, RCP, The Press, Ashby's Ready Mixed, Cosgroves, Farrell Construction, Hilton Haulage, J A Schneiderman Family Trust, Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers, Libor Group, Metal by Design, Nuplex Construction Products, Orion, Peter Baker Transport, Placemakers, Resene, Rowlands Builders, Steel & Tube Reinforcing Division, Vulcan Steel.

Image & video credits:

Tree Houses for Swamp Dwellers, Julia Morison, 2013

© SCAPE Public Art & Julia Morison