Interview w/ Lizzi Morris
Hi Lizzi! Can you briefly introduce yourself? Like where are you from, how old are you, what’s your zodiac sign?
Hi! I’m a 22-year-old artist from Melbourne, Australia and I’m a sweet lil Gemini (please don’t talk to me about Mercury retrograde).
What material/techniques do you feel most comfortable with? What do you not get along with?
I really like making soft sculptures from textiles, particularly fabrics that feel nice against my skin. I also enjoy drawing, usually with markers, pens, pencil and watercolor.
I have a background in painting and I eventually realized it wasn't for me because I get headaches easily from most acrylic and oil paints. I’m trying to open up to the idea of using paint again in my practice, so I’ve started using watercolor and gouache in my work.
When and how did you decide to start making installations?
It was in university when I figured out that making sculpture and installation was a lot more fun for me than painting. I really enjoy the physical aspect of installation and developing a spatial relationship between my body and the objects I was working with.
The artist that first inspired me to engage with installation art was Hiromi Tango. The artist and other collaborators engage with the work over an extended period of time, it’s very immersive and really evokes a sense of tactility and physical interaction, which are all elements that my practice focuses on.
In your installations you use a lot of different materials and textures. How do you decide what you want to use? What are your favourite materials to work with?
I use a mixture of soft and hard materials in my installations and when I’m choosing what materials or textures I want to use I always look for contrast. I like using really soft fabrics against harsh and rough surfaces.
How do you think installations are different from pictures regarding the influence they have on an audience?
Entering into an installation is completely different from viewing a drawing or a painting, as you are engaging in a physical and spatial relationship with the objects, located in the installation. You have the opportunity to compare your body to the forms and you develop a sense of tactility and the potential to physically reach out and touch the objects. And when you are a viewer, you are usually at a distance from two-dimensional works.
I use drawing as a method of developing ideas for potential installations or objects I might want to experiment with in the future. Drawing is also used as a method of documentation of previous installations/objects. At the moment I’ve been using drawing as a way of considering surfaces, spaces, and materials.
Would you describe your works as abstractions or nonrepresentational art? Are they abstractions of concrete forms or do they not have any connection to the figurative?
I would describe my work as having an abstract relation to the figurative through the physical element of engaging with material and how you feel when you approach the objects and make bodily comparisons against them. You could consider the soft forms as representations of bodies, or charged representations of what the word ‘soft’ means. In terms of my drawing, the works are usually either illustrating how forms can interact or simply looking at pattern, color and texture.
In some of your older Instagram posts I saw you also did a lot of figural drawings. Do you still do figurative works? What’s the difference for you between your works now and your figurative works back then?
I don't do figurative work anymore. I was using those drawings as a method of self-exploration at a time when I was coming into my own and developing a sense of who I am as a person. I always felt a strong disconnect between my installation practice and my drawing practice when I was drawing figures, but now that I draw mostly objects and textures I feel that my practice is well rounded and that both elements feed into each other.
At the moment we can see that the girl power movement and a new wave of feminism are all over the Internet. Do you think it has become hip to be feminist?
I don’t want to describe a movement that is so important to so many people across the world as being trendy. The more people that engage with intersectional feminism means that more important discussions are heard, where the voices of those who have experienced and still experience oppression can be uplifted and celebrated, particularly the voices of people of color, trans, non-binary, and queer people.
I have recently seen a lot of companies attempt to capitalize on the traction that feminism is gaining in order to sell it back to us under the guise of empowering yourself through making a purchase. I think it’s important to always question how and why these people are using feminism as a part of their own brand for personal and financial gain when they aren’t giving anything back to the people that feminism strives to help.
What is your stance on the topic of feminist art and body positivity? How do social media have an influence on that?
I love feminist art and body positivity just so long as it is intersectional and celebrates everyone on the gender spectrum. I feel like social media has helped people find a community where they are embraced and loved, which has allowed so many people feel more like themselves in a world that doesn't seem so loving a lot of the time.
Where or when so you feel most inspired? Or where do you turn to for inspiration and how do you channel it?
I feel inspired surrounded by my incredibly talented friends. I feel so much support and love from them and it gives me a soft and warm feeling that makes me proud of the work that I do and makes me want to make more. I also find visiting exhibitions to be a really important source of inspiration, where I have the opportunity to view different kinds of art and processes. This allows me to gain a new perspective on my own work. It’s so nice to actually step outside and view art that isn’t on a phone or laptop screen.
Another way I find inspiration is through consistently making work. When I make a sculptural work, I then want to draw it. And then I’ll end up drawing a sculpture or a texture I want to examine physically. So really, the different parts of my practice feed into each other and inspire different investigations into object and texture.
You’re a fine arts graduate, when and how did you decide that’s what you wanted to study? Also what’s studying fine arts like?
I think I decided when I was around 16, because art was one of the only things I was good at and really loved. Studying was a good choice for me, but at times it was a very intense experience. I found it challenging but also very beneficial in a lot of ways and I’m very appreciative that I had the opportunity to study something I am so passionate about.
You’ve just finished your Honours Degree in Fine Arts at RMIT. What’s up next?
This year I would really like to find a studio where I have the space to work on both my drawing and installation works. Currently, I’m working from a small desk in my bedroom so it would be nice to have a little bit more space. I also want to experiment more with new processes and materials. And I need to find a day job to actually fund all of these things.
What other artists inspire you? Do you have any idols?
Tracey Emin, Bridie Lunney, Yayoi Kusama, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Sarah Lucas, Paul Yore and Louise Bourgeois are some of my favourite artists. My friends who are practicing artists also constantly inspire me, the conversations that we have about art and other things are so good.
What music do you listen to when you’re working? Or do you need silence to concentrate?
When I’m drawing I like to watch TV shows and movies. But when I’m cutting out fabric or making soft objects, I usually listen to Mariah Carey’s Greatest Hits album, Solange or Ella Fitzgerald. My installation process is usually a silent one because I like to film the physical exchange between the objects and myself and it’s important to capture the sounds that develop through the interactions.
What are your top 5 artsy instagrammers to follow?
Where can the readers find you online?
My instagram account is @lizzi.morris and my website is www.lizzimorris.com