Julia Morison

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Print by Julia Morison

Unflagging in her continued exploration of form and materials and her ever evolving aesthetic, Julia Morison (ONZM) is an important senior New Zealand artist who never fails to fascinate or charm again and again, rewarding repeat visits. Her work employs a diversity of unexpected materials and mystical allusions in a seductive practice that transcends the merely formal and conceptual. Morison’s work delves deep into the philosophical, the kabbalah, the erotic, the alchemical, and the literary, and is well represented in New Zealand’s most important public and private collections.

Morison was educated at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design, hence her strong graphic sensibility, and has an Honours degree in Fine Arts from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts where she has also taught a generation of younger artists as senior lecturer in painting. In 1988 she was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship, and the same year became the recipient of a prestigious Moët & Chandon residency in France where she subsequently made her home for the next nine years.

In 2005 Morison received a Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand, and as a testament to her importance as an artist, a major survey exhibition organised by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū and Dunedin Public Art Gallery, A loop around a loop, toured the country in 2006-7. In 2010 Morison was among 8 artists representing New Zealand at the Sydney Bienniale, and in 2012 the artist was inducted into Massey University’s College of Creative Arts’ Hall of Fame. Since then other exhibitions of her work have toured nationally, including Meet me on the other side in 2012, 2000 grounds for error (2013-14), and Omnium Gatherum (2015-16). The major sculptural exhibition HEADCASE showed at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū in 2019. Morison has also created public sculptures such as the modular and relocatable Tree Houses for Swamp Dwellers (2013) for the SCAPE public art project in Christchurch and Ouroboros (2013) in Dunedin.

Morison was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to visual arts in the 2018 New Year Honours list.

Dr Andrew Paul Wood