HEATHER AND IVAN MORISON
Date: 20-Jan-2010 – 03-Apr-2011
Location: VARIOUS, TASMANIA
Contemporary Arts Spaces Tasmania (CAST) commissioned high-profile British artists, Heather and Ivan Morison, to work with Tasmanian artists and the Queenstown community to develop this unique project. Known internationally for their exploration of site specificity, the Morisons with the Mr Clevver project bring together a concept of moving art with the medieval forms of puppetry and minstrelsy – in the current technological age.
Mr Clevver, a traveling sculptural artwork in the form of a puppet theatre, is on an unhurried tour of the less-traveled side roads and small rural settlements in western, north-western and eastern Tasmania. Moving slowly through the landscape, Mr Clevver uses only the spectacle of an un-fashioned 1960s truck drawing a hand-built humpy and the ‘bush telegraph’ to attract locals to their shows. Word of mouth will signal the company’s arrival at rural settlements, where they will make camp and spread the word that a performance shall take place the next day. A troupe of puppeteers (Tasmanian artists, Andrew Harper and Pip Stafford) represents ‘the outsider’ visiting town unannounced. They also give entertainment, provide insight through myths and stories and find new stories to become a part of the show. Working with the Morisons, the artists will perform puppet shows that blend factual recall with fiction, merging information into a narrative that builds on the mythology of their own lives and also the lives of people they encounter.
Over recent years the Morisons have been creating a series of buildings, vehicles and structures they call ‘Escape Vehicles’. These works explore the desire to escape the restrictions and dissatisfactions of the modern world along with a (subconscious) desire for the cataclysmic – evidenced by the interest in the visioning of disasters in popular culture. The Morisons have been writing puppet plays and making puppets as part of their recent practice. In their plays, the puppets weave fictional narratives around actual elements of the artwork to offer a disturbed mythical perspective. The Tasmanian puppets will be hand-made along the journey from earth and other found objects, and the stories they play out will be collaged from threads that run through the Morisons’ practice and the curious narratives of Tasmania. Out of its time, part medieval part futuristic, Mr Clevver is an evolving work about the coming together of different people in differing places.
* Mr Clevver is based on a character from the post-apocalyptic novel, ‘Riddley Walker’ by Russell Hoban, first published in 1980.