Your Space Or Mine
Morag Myerscough transforms everyday spaces with love
Artist Morag Myerscough’s mantra is, “make happy those who are near and those who are far will come.” That feeling of happiness resonates through her work: bold, colourful installations and immersive spatial artworks that bring joy to the area surrounding it. She transforms public places from schools to town centres to hospitals from mundane spaces to ones that radiate, a process epitomised by her Temple of Agape at Southbank in 2014, a temporary construction devoted to love.
Born, educated and bred in London, Myerscough is dedicated to enriching her local community. For the Design Museum, she created their first free permanent exhibition, featuring hand-picked selections from the museum’s archive. She transformed Battersea Power Station, a notoriously drab location, with a vivid piece entitled “POWER”. She has also worked further afield, transforming the children’s bedrooms at Sheffield Hospital into spaces that actively improve the patients’ wellbeing.
For our Your Space Or Mine collaboration with Myerscough, she’s created an artwork that will be displayed at our poster sites across the country. Reading “Sun Dance”, the vibrant posters spread the positivity that Myerscough is known for. As she puts it: “It is always time to dance.” To celebrate the launch, we interviewed Myerscough on her work:
Could you tell us about your background and how you came to do the work you do now?
I was born and bred in Holloway, London. My father was a professional viola player and my mother a textile artist. In Holloway the Myerscoughs were spread across two terraced houses, with my grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt and two cousins next door. It was a very lively household with lots of music, making, food, discussions, French, and laughter.
My Father really wanted us to be academic, but finally when it came to deciding what I wanted to do I chose to go to art school. My parents were great for that, they really did let us choose for ourselves and I am grateful for that.
Who and what has most influenced your work?
My parents did not have much money, but having artists as parents who were able to feed and clothe us did show to me that you can survive doing what you want to do in life. With regards to colour it was definitely my mother as our home was always filled with coloured fabrics and threads. We would help my mum dye materials and collect onion skins and elderberries for vegetable dyes, so from very young I was very aware of the nuances between different colours.
What do you want to achieve with your work?
To make a connection. I often work with community groups and aim to make work that ultimately belongs to them. Recently I painted ‘Our Super Heroes We Love You’ on the side of my studio (with the help of Wood Street Walls) and I was overwhelmed by the positive and enthusiastic response from my neighbours who live in the estate behind me. I was worried they may think it was too bright, but they loved it and I had so many great conversations I would never have had otherwise. I really love when people feel joy from my work, but I am also happy if people don’t like my work. I think the most important thing is that people have a reaction to it.
You often collaborate on your projects, sometimes with architects. Is that something you actively look for?
In the past I would work with architects on and in their buildings to build a narrative, but now I often collaborate with community groups, poets, musicians, artists and engineers who bring another dimension to the particular project I am working on.
How did this idea come about and what was your thought process?
A couple of months ago I did a sketch that incorporated the word ‘Dance’. When the BUILDHOLLYWOOD family approached me I had been thinking about that word a lot and I just knew I wanted my message to have the word ‘Dance’ in it. ‘Dancing’ is a joyful place to be and we need more of it. You can dance without getting too close so there is nothing stopping us dancing.
The symbol of the sun is a constant in my work. It is my symbol of ‘Joy’. The sun is the most important source of energy for life on Earth. This summer has had incredible sunshine and we have been able to dance in the sunshine and reconnect with nature and regenerate.
What would be your dream project?
For so long I have been wanting to build a Chrysanthemum House. Finsbury Park, which was my local park growing up, had a Chrysanthemum House as Stoke Newington was the home of the Chrysanthemum society. The flowers have so many colours and they bloom over the winter. It combines my love of growing plants and colour, the perfect combination.
What do you have planned next?
I am painting an 8m high spire structure ‘A NEW NOW’ at the moment in my studio that is (hopefully) going to be installed in Paris just next to the Pompidou early October. It’s a response to the times we are living in as I don’t believe there should be a ‘New Normal’. Normal is a terrible word and we need to live in the ‘New Now’.