July 24th to October 12th 2014
Phil Morrison, The Poet, 2012, Concrete.
Pairing a representation of the fragility of the human spirit with the strength and durability of materials associated with the construction industry, Heaven. Hunger. Heart., a solo-exhibition of work by long-time Prince George artist, Phil Morrison, explores, elucidates and draws out a profound understanding between these two disparate sides of life. Much of Morrison's work is made using concrete or white grout, the pale grey and sheer whites becoming nearly the only colour palette in the exhibition. While these materials are heavy and strong, he pieres them with holes, most notably text, and draws limbs out in long wavering lines that hang limply. Text, religion, life and love all come together as important themes running through the exhibition, while poetry and words written by Morrison himself, demonstrate his longing to delve into the profound nature of the human spirit and the ever present pain of love and loss.
An exhibition catalogue is available.
On October 2, 2014, Two Rivers Gallery hosted 3D Poetry, featuring Phil Morrision’s exhibition, Heaven. Hunger. Heart. Eight artists recited poems in response to Morrison’s sculptures, captivating the audience and creating a truly unique multi-dimensional experience within the Gallery space. Below are five of the original poems written in response to Morrison's art, along with an image of the sculpture that inspired the piece.
I left my hand in the Wind
By Ivy Chelsea
in response to the sculpture,"Container for Spiritual Ideas", by Phil Morrison
My right hand has held the handle of the first bike I rode when I was 5.
I touch the pine trees and picked huckleberries until my fingers were purple from the juices.
I slapped a girl in Kindergarten for call me a dirty injun.
I help my mother make a mess with flour to make yeast bread and bannock.
I gingerly held a saucer and drank sweet coffee as I waited for my family to awaken from drunken stupor.
I drove the truck home while my dad worked the peddles.
I ran through the hayfields and picked dandelions for home brew.
I held my mother’s hand as she promised me she would quit drinking.
I held my baby brothers when they were born.
I washed dishes and dried them.
Laughed and slapped my knee with my right hand until my tummy hurt.
Wiped tears from my eyes.
When I rode a steer in Lil Britches rodeo, I held my right elbow straight, turned out my toes and dug my heels and spurs into the bull rope.
I shift the gears of the tractor driving through our hayfield.
Grab the twine of the square bales of hay and throw them on the truck.
I shoot with a right handed hockey stick as I played on the Alkali Panthers.
I held the buckskin when I shot at crows with my slingshot.
My right hand pulled the trigger when I won at the reserve turkey shoot.
My right hand once housed a wedding ring which I have long thrown away.
My right hand held the tiny heads, tiny fingers and toes of my children and my grandchildren.
I paddled a canoe down the Fraser River.
I rock climbed and wiped the sweat from my brow.
I zippered up my sleeping bag at McBride Peak when it was -25 C.
I held my best friend’s hand as she told me she was living with pancreatic cancer.
And when I was sixteen, I held my lil brother’s hand praying that he would squeeze back.
8 weeks ago, I left my right hand in the wind…I had to learn how to use and acknowledge my left!
I drum with my husband…LOL
By KD Darcy Taylor, 2014
in response to the sculpture bearing the same title, by Phil Morrison
There are so many stories untold, experience and feelings
secreted away from the public eye, treasures we hold that
brand hot, wounds sealed with salt to stop our light
from bleeding out
but from across the room, a shining magnet I can’t resist
a white sunrise in pearl, cream, ivory, clear as ice
particles on a -30 day without clouds—I am
captivated, wordlessly enslaved
Because women are the weaker sex
Because I was born on the poor side of town
She begs brightly in her nakedness, and my hand
rises without hesitation to trace her hip, the smiling
curve of her buttock, the length of her relaxed hamstring
and back UP. The absence of defensive language
a cacophony expanding off her like the perfume
of a thousand gardenias
because She is a teeming porcelain vase of poems
because it’s cheaper to hire a woman for the job
She doesn’t polish her words, instead chisels them
raw, into the scaffold on which she lives and dies
all her mysteries, culture and oppressions etched
onto the inside of her ribcage, skeletized, the bold
light of each syllable visible only through
plugged portals created by overworked and tense
shoulders, overtouched and betrayed hips
Because what happens behind closed doors is nobody else’s business
Because dreamers cannot be tamed
Sequestered stanzas harden into diamonds stronger
than my will to behave, and my manners falter despite being a
woman, despite being an empathetic sister understanding
of her prone position, and so I reach—
like so many others, try to touch that trickle of
Fragrance, try to capture the essence of those hidden lines
nothing to slap my hand away, no dagger to cut off my assault
Because all the world’s a stage
Because she asked for it
Her secret sonnet rises invisibly, a heady scent
between us, curling into my subconscious like papal
smoke, velvet-tipped lines bruising my own soft petals
Yet my hands linger, palms becoming ears as she peels back
the rules of my religion, screams my quiet turnings-away
whitewashes all my neon needs, and I realize
that privilege is White
Because beauty is defined by the beholder
Because leading a horse to water is the easy part
Though she hides her true face in average and mediocre
within our encounter she sighs a concrete message which
reaches through me and wraps around my spine, smooth
as eggshells, the delicate pinging of my chisel
barely audible as it begins to work
She sighs: if you have a dozen of any one beautiful
thing, a dozen beautiful poems, a dozen beautiful talents
a dozen beautiful gardenias, a dozen burning embers of
Hope and Promise… promise to only ever sell but 10, she says
keep two of every dozen back for the Self, hide some words
so you can write poems of your own, poems to enlighten
Psalm for those who become light
By Adrienne Fitzpatrick
in response to the sculpture, "Humpty Dumpty Christ", by Phil Morrison
This is my body wreathed, punctured in shining words. Hands and feet holed, breezes shoot through, lift like branches, eyes sealed, call clenched in my throat, song comes like a croak, bursting the light edges.
You can see me in the slices, missing strips of skin.
Circling the primordial tower, followed by rage, flames, stone arrows, plaintive pleas. I am struck and struck again. My face is near the surface, you can see it in flashes lightning brings. I have been for a thousand years blood where there is light; floods and cracks, flares smoothed with tears, skin hardened after the flow.
I want to unfold, unclose the place in me that is false.
What will I do when I have become light, when my body is voice and texture, entirely written, skin as parchment. When I am no longer how I began, whole, smooth and unbroken.
I have been circling, singing and dancing and falling in wonder of what has been written, what there is still to speak. My chest is wounded, struck with such truth it shattered, slowly turned to stone, to words, to light.
My soul is constantly in my hand, yet I do not forget thy law. I am hollowed, hinged by passion that passed through, incandescent, still circling, for thousands of years circling, and I still do not know if I am a falcon, a storm or a great song.
And On Earth Above
By Al Rempel
in response to the sculpture, "Harp with Glass Strings", by Phil Morrison
white-headed dandelion, the wind blows
all night, into the geodesic morning —
clever wind, blows into the battens of sleep
blows into stupors
protrusions of legs & ankles
the wind elbows resolve
peeling off love-me-love-me-not petals
shifty wind, blows underwear & swimsuits dry
blows patio umbrellas into the pool
swivels the seed-points of star-shine
below our line of sight
they have spent
the better part of the month
digging a hole
work, the measure of effort
to find a footing
concrete poured over elaborate
over geometric, over integral, over —
design & abstract & spine & skeleton
when we went there
we saw rebar, wrapped tight with wire —
could smell the faint smell of playground
in all the wet sand
& mucking about
so unevenly matched
by the sky
we have rigged up
a semblance of heaven here
sat in Orkney chairs
between the good book & the bottle
waited for the city to be finished
grow in every which green
clever wind, blow cottonwood fluff
throughout the town
better to have parachutes of ideas
threaded on the wind
better to have whirly-gigs stuck in the unmowed lawn
o backyard tree —
if we could perch so precarious
Desire and Discipline:
A Meditation for Phil Morrison
By Michael Armstrong
in response to the sculpture, "Desire and Discipline", by Phil Morrison
There is a torso kneeling on a stump in the artist’s garden, its limbs amputated and pinched off with wooden clamps to staunch the flow of blood, to hold in the viscera before it too squeezes out of the body and flops wet to the ground. The wounds seem somehow fresh, the body round and firm. The skin below the tourniquets, shriveling and limp, would one day wither away were it not already cured into concrete. Pinched and crippled, this petrified headless trunk can no longer move forward and stands as though decapitated in mid-stride.
So many tensions. The wounds fresh and terrible yet the medium so unyielding, so permanent. The promise of movement yet the fact of none. It is the pain concretized. Frozen, made manifest, cut and removed from the artist and stood out for observation. I can walk around it. I can inspect it leisurely from all sides, comment on it, compare it to my own injuries, weep, laugh, judge.
It is, however, not the pain itself, but a symbol, a representation, and, if I enter it, it is a channel into the pain, a river toward understanding, toward community, and I am drawn into its mouth to rush down like white water.
Learn a trade my son, said Dad. And I did, I learned his, despite the better judgment of a 20 year old who thought anything would be better than being a carpenter, who wanted to be an actor or a writer, but knew he had nothing to say at that tender young age.
I have spent most of thirty five years packing the lumber in from the road, loading 2x12’s one by one up to the roof till my back went into spasm and never felt wholly right again, wheeling concrete up the driveway to the excavation because the truck can’t navigate it and the pump’s not available, working like a madman when the forms burst to save the pour, binding up a thousand cuts from the ties and the wire, the knives and the hammers, the splinters and the stone.
All those years with limbs tied off one by one, an arm a leg, as the cement seeped in through the skin, accumulated in the muscle, stiffened till it hurt to reach beyond what was familiar, till I wanted to amputate, cut it off and throw it away, apply a tourniquet to staunch the blood, till crippled and pinched, with a spirit held apart high and far and lost, I couldn’t understand what it meant to polish a wet slab by starlight, share a cup of coffee with close friends as we wait for the back hoe to arrive and watch the mist rise out of the forest, the visible breath of god, to ring our hammers like temple bells and give ourselves to work like a priest to prayer.
It is through art that I come to understand my soul is in this pain. It is everything I am. I must reach into it, live in it, relish it. Strip off the wooden blocks, loose the tourniquets, and bleed like a stuck pig, a wild thing, till the flow is free and clean, even if the last thing I see is the blue air where my spirit has for so long soared, separate, until invited it can descend; and the green herbs at my feet that have risen out of an earth that sends its quiet strength up into my body, a spreading and sustaining root. If you cut off the pain, you cut off the joy. Joy resides amid and within all the visceral and ugly evidence of life, in the recognition and the reunion of its many parts.
My body is a binding of heaven and earth.
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