ISC, International Sculpture ASA,Salt Spring Island, West Coast Sculptors Association
Morley Myers was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1956, and grew up primarily in the Medicine Hat region. A self-taught sculptor, Morley has been working with stone since 1991 and has been involved in exhibits on the west coast and has displayed in both Canadian and US galleries.
When creating a sculpture from a raw block of stone Myers often starts with the fault line, the unruly fracture, or some other perceived defect, not in order to make a correction, but rather to initiate a process of discovery.
The chisel is guided into a series of moves and countermoves; shapes emerge and disappear and a hidden three-dimensional poetry is, in the end, revealed. Myers is like the archer who, though he knows where he is aiming his arrow, ultimately retains a certain indifference to its exact destination. The work is meticulously composed but open. If this approach sounds like the working method of a previous era – it is precisely that. Myers is one of a growing number of artists who have been struck by the disappointing results of the “new critical” artistic forms and styles. When compared to the art produced in the first part of the 20th century, it is hard not to notice that the results of postmodernism are sometimes little more than sociologically inspired one-liners with perhaps limited durability. Over the last 30 years postmodern critics have tended to emphasize the disruptions and downplay the continuities. This has lead, in certain quarters, to the belief that the art of the past is merely historical artifact, lacking in aliveness or contemporary relevance. Given the relative paucity of durable results, dealing in recoveries, re-developments and extensions is not only valid but perhaps necessary. In a conscious effort to disengage with the new orthodoxy, Myers has investigated anew pre-postmodern strategies and methods.
Before settling on his current approach, Myers experimented with several artistic methods of the recent past. At one point, for instance, he took up the welding of found objects after being inspired by an exhibition of Anthony Caro but found the results lacking in the essential qualities he was looking for.
He then reached further into the past, eventually coming upon a territory of high experimentation. It was here, among works by Picasso, Moore, Brancusi and Smith, that Myers not only found inspiration but a fertile ground of unrealized possibilities. An effort to redevelop and extend what he saw – and felt – in these sculptures began. The project became to see what emerged when, without seeking to pastiche or imitate in a nostalgic way, an artist immersed in postmodern culture takes up a working method that privileges experience over “reading”.
Postmodernist sculpture relies, in general, upon symbols and their play to convey its meaning while Myers’ work evolves from a more direct encounter with the material itself. By beginning with what he identifies as “the defect”, Myers initiates a process of salvage or recovery. In the moulding of each “recovered” shape Myers puts into play both that which is already there and that which is anticipated but not yet realized. His compositional skills have, in addition, been finely honed by 20 years of hands-on experience with the chisel.
His work is rich and sensuous, inviting the viewer to walk around it in order to experience how the individual forms emerge and dissolve, how they impact each other, how they influence the whole.
Morley’s style is a unique blend of cross-cultural primitive imagery. He says, “I feel the primal aspect of my work touches everyone on a basic level. Living on Salt Spring Island since 1989, I have had many opportunities to enjoy and be influenced by many of the artists that reside here.”
His work is currently represented exclusively on Salt Spring Island at Gallery 8.