The Space in Between: Interview with Morgan Ward
I have always retained an interest in the concept of the painting’s picture plane, and significantly, how this can be manipulated. In my practice, I aim to investigate the relationships between colour and the interaction of forms. Questioning how one might choose to fill the space of a canvas as an object, and whether paintings can communicate and inform themselves. A key aspect is the expansion of a space, both physically and as an abstract illusion.
I have adopted and developed a practice that allows me to constantly interrogate problems and outcomes. Persistently working from preliminary studies in a sketchbook and allowing them to inform, but not dictate, my paintings. Thinking about communication between paintings and how paintings can be viewed as an object in space, not just a flat surface that reacts only with the eyes. Wanting the paintings to interact as a body of work, interconnecting within itself, translating forms and using colour suggestively to signify space and build these networks. Using the space around a painting to play an equal role in how the painting is consumed by the viewer as the content of the picture plane. Where a painting begins and where it ends, your entry point of a painting, and where you are allowed to enter a painting. How adjacent space can alter how paintings communicate and how the viewer can be manipulated in a space to react a certain way towards specific works.
What is your artistic background?
After living in London my whole life, I decided to take the plunge and completely change scenery and study Fine Art at the University of Chichester in the South of the UK. I returned to London where I live and work in my studio and from then on my practice has continued to grow.
When did you start exploring the idea of paintings in relation to their space and environment?
Like most artists, you start from a very early age producing works from visual stimulation of what is around you, be that your friends or family, scenery, or anything you can get your hands on. But, I always found myself so much more interested in the space in between and how that changed the space/object(s) adjacent. I suppose it derived with the formal thinking of compositions and the curating of a visual plane.
We love the intensity and installation-like effect of your work. What would you say your current work is about?
The central questioning of my practice has been that of what constitutes the space of painting. How one might choose to fill the space of a canvas as an object, and whether paintings can communicate and inform themselves through relational proximity. In thinking about communication between paintings and how paintings can be viewed as an object in space, not just a flat surface that reacts only with the eyes has led me to explore work in series wanting the paintings to interact as a body of work, interconnecting within themselves both singularly and across the sequence as a network in actual space.
Your palette is absolutely stunning. How do you come up with the color in your work?
My colour palette has derived from many many studies and paintings and it’s a continually growing thing that I carry around in my brain. Its kind of organically grown from itself, testing colours and knowing what works and what doesn’t and manipulating these good and bad relationships between colours to open and close and illusionistic space in a fixed object in reality. But I do get into phases of really overly enjoying a specific oil paint colour, it sounds like such an odd obsession, but its so satisfying finding a colour that’s just exactly what you are looking for.
Give us a glimpse into your process. What is a typical day in the studio like for you?
I always like to get started with just throwing a colour down into a sketchbook and pushing to see what I can do with it. Give myself a line on a page and make myself produce a composition relation to that specific line as a focal point. Once I get started with investigating one tiny idea or a colour it always leads to something hopefully substantial, I find myself spending a whole day just exploring one form or one colour to the limits of what it can or could be.
What are some of your interests outside of art-making?
Now this may seem a little odd, but I have a slight obsession with collecting plants… Wherever I go I always find myself picking up a plant or two or a type of pot for them to go in, it does a great job of brightening up my studio, I always enjoy buying the plant that looks a little worst off than its counterparts and bringing back to life.
What is the best piece of advice you received as an artist?
Keep going, everyone always says to just keep producing what you feel is right, never forget your artistic direction wherever it takes you, trust your own judgement, always question things and just go with it!