'I Shall Live for 100 Years', 1985- © Paula Morison

A 100-year performance documented through two websites which, respectively, count how long the artist has been alive and how long the artist has left to live until the date and time of their proposed death.

Image courtesy of the artist, photographer: Seb Camilleri

Student Spotlight: Paula Morison, Slade MFA Award
May 9, 2019
The next student to be featured in our Student Spotlight series is Paula Morison, recipient of the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Award funded by ACS at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art in 2018.

Morison received a £1,500 prize to aid the development of her practice during the final year of her postgraduate degree. In our exclusive interview, she shares how her research-led work takes the form of a variety of media including screenprints, newspapers, books and performances.

We are delighted to announce that Morison's artwork will be on view at the Slade Graduate Degree Show 2019 later this year between 6 - 16 June. Find out more about the processes behind her conceptual work below.


Q. How would you define your work in three words?


Ordered, research-led, compiled.


Q. What does winning the ACS/Slade Master of Fine Art (MFA) Award mean for you as an artist?


Winning the ACS Award means a huge amount to me. Undertaking a university course is now extremely expensive and I currently work two days a week to support myself through my postgraduate course. This prize will prevent me from having to take on more work during my studies which would negatively affect my progress. It has also given me an enormous boost as it shows ACS believes in my work and appreciates what I am making.


I will be putting the prize money towards my university fees. My MFA at the Slade is helping my practice enormously. I am critically analysing my work in a more thorough manner and developing my work at a faster rate. This prize will enable me to make the most of my course and develop my work as much as possible in this supporting environment.



Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?


I don’t have one main medium as my work is conceptual and the form is therefore dictated by the idea.


In the last two years I have made screenprints, newspapers, books and a performance and I am currently working on an embroidered map in the scale 1:1.


I also have projects in the planning stages which may include ceramics, a photographic installation and a book of embossed drawings. I feel the way I research and plan work is my specialism, rather than the medium I work in.


‘Where There Are No Shipwrecks (Red)’, 2018 © Paula Morison
114.5 x 82 cm, screenprint on paper depicting in red where shipwrecks are not located around the British Isles. Image courtesy of the artist, photographer: Shinuk Suh


Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?


I am most inspired by the way people, myself included, try to order the world around us to make it easier to comprehend or control. My work largely examines the systems we create that bring us comfort or perceived control in an uncontrollable universe.


Q. Take us through your working process.


My work always starts with an idea. These ideas can come from anything; a conversation, an artwork, a lecture or even a meme. I then start researching and compile a set of information or data.


The next part is working out how to present this information in the most concise and understandable manner and in a medium conceptually suitable to the idea. At this stage I like to get feedback from others and discuss the way the work is heading. Lastly I make the work! Because of the processes I use, projects can take a very long time to be realised, sometimes many years.


‘Wildfire (01.05.14 – 20.03.18)’, 2018 © Paula Morison
38 x 28.9 x 0.5 cm. A digitally-printed, 72-page newspaper containing four years’ worth of collected news stories about wildfires.
Image courtesy of the artist.


Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?


I can’t remember the first work of art I created but I do remember doing a painting at playgroup at the age of maybe 3 or 4. On the way home I told my mum and my sister that I had mixed the colour black from other paint colours and they told me this was impossible. I was completely convinced this had happened and so frustrated that they didn’t believe me. I’m not sure what effect this had on me but I’m still very interested in colour to this day!


Between 18-29 May, Morison will be participating in the ‘Red Mansion Art Prize Exhibition 2019’ at the Weston Studio, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD.


Her work is currently on display until 13 July in the exhibition ‘Rumblestrip’ at the g39 Gallery, Oxford Street, Cardiff CF24 3DT.