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Polly Morgan's Endless Plains

Since childhood I have always held a love for those self-constructed hideaways, those little corners hidden from the outside world where fantasy ruled. Whilst all the other kids from the neighbourhood were playing outside in the sun I was diving realms of creation, fascinated by cultural mythology surrounding the cycle of physical and the path of the spiritual. I was never an unhappy child, I was just completely fascinated by the transient nature of 'being' and 'not being.'

It was no surprise at all when I fell in love with the first Polly Morgan exhibition I saw in the summer of 2010. 'Psychopomps,' at the Haunch of Venison Gallery in London, beautiful abstract sculptures around the life of a caged bird. Rather than imprisoned, for example, finches were flying above their cage, carrying it.

British born Morgan had already been working as an artist for 5 years prior to my live introduction to her work, where a love of animals and a heart-felt desire to preserve their memory in poignant beauty led her to George Jamieson. Under the tutelage of Jamieson, Morgan began to learn the intricacies of taxidermy and utilise the skill in her work. For those of you reading who are concerned that animals may have been mistreated, all animals used in Morgan's still-lifes are either road casualties or have been donated to the artist after natural or unpreventable deaths by vets or their owners.

Morgan updates the traditional notion of 'memento mori,' the artistic movement that reminds us of our mortality, with the animal as subject. Her new show is also her largest installation to date. Entitled 'Endless Plains' and showing at the All Visual Arts gallery in London, it is inspired by the artist's recent visit to the Serengeti region of Africa. "the predator, the parasite and the prey." The centrepiece of 'Endless Plains' is a fallen tree, collapsing in upon itself as it rots away, it's life complete but not yet it's full cycle. A litter of fat little piglets form like parasites around it as the suck out of it whatever nourishment remains, sap running down their face. The piglets complete the larger life-cycle at work as, in their death, their carcasses sprout mushrooms to be picked apart by hungry flock of birds.

Now, here find evidence of me being a total scaredy-cat, taking a closer look to the mushroom sprouting piglets, 'Archipelago 2012,' left me weak at the knees. This speaks clearly regarding the power of Morgan's message, the way that life feeds of death amongst the simplistic beauty of these once vibrant creatures certainly leaves my mind a lot more active than my legs, as I pondered deep in thought.

Polly Morgan's Endless Plains is open at All Visual Arts London until 31 July 2012.

Words by Alexandra Plesner
21:38 - 15/07/12