Polly Morgan is the winner of First Plinth: Public Art Award 2021
‘Strikingly independent...her art says something genuinely insightful about the modern world.’ – Waldemar Januszczak writing in The Sunday Times
‘There may not be an elegant term for the jangling, queasy, uncanny chills induced by certain combinations of materials and textures, but by God does Polly Morgan understand the territory.’ – Hettie Judah writing in The Guardian
‘Simultaneously excruciating, outrageous and savagely erotic.’ - Louisa Buck writing in The Art Newspaper
Polly Morgan (b.1980) is a British artist living and working in London. She is self- taught with no formal education in art and rose to attention after learning taxidermy in 2004 when she began to dismantle taxidermy traditions, creating unsettling still lives where the animal was observed in death rather than life. Recent works, making use of her model-making and painting skills, are illusory sculptures that combine taxidermy with cast objects and painted veneers and lie somewhere between figuration and abstraction.
Social media and the COVID pandemic provide the context for new works that use the highly decorative hides of snakes and the trompe l’oeil designs in nail artistry to comment on the disparity between surface and reality.
Corset-like concrete and cast polystyrene structures struggle to contain snakes that contort and spill from openings, alluding to the distorting effect that social media has on our physical selves.
In an age where our digital selves are experienced by more people than our physical selves, Morgan uses these rigid forms and painted veneers as a metaphor to examine our need to contain, control and conceal.