Shoogly bed


Dictionary of the Scots Language:

Shoogly: wobbly, precarious

Shoogly-bed: a quagmire


Walking along a nearby coastline, I came across a disturbingly enormous oyster shell – over a quarter of a metre long. Apparently, they can live for up to 30 years. They are also capable of changing gender, from male to female. Historically, oysters would filter excess nutrients from estuaries, opening and closing in response to the position of the sun and the moon.

Further finds included strange hybrids – shells growing on shells, sometimes as many as four or five together and worm riddled calcifications. This abundance of marine life (or death) seemed to be densely located, specifically, around a water outlet. There were scant pickings to be found further along the shore. Intrigued, I brought these mutant molluscs back to the studio where I began to conjoin them with other objects, bringing into being new, alien forms.

Another day, along another stretch of coastline, I came across a colony of unusual sand formations. These brought to mind Bill Brandt’s ‘Perspective of Nudes’ photographs, particularly those taken on the East Sussex Coast in the 1950s. In Brandt’s extreme close ups, body, shingle and rocks merge. In my images, this is playfully subverted – it is the sand that suggests body parts and strange protrusions.

Alongside this, I have been documenting water – foaming, bubbling, oozing and fermenting. Some of these elements have been brought together to construct other, unsettling scenarios. These are, unfortunately, closer to reality than I would have wished, symptomatic of the current state of our water systems – our seas, estuaries, rivers, lakes, swamps and their beds…

This work has been commissioned by The Arts Council Of Northern Ireland.

Sue Morris was born in England and is a graduate of the Royal College of Art, London. She has lived and worked in Ireland since the 1990s, most recently in Derry, Northern Ireland. Her multidisciplinary practice utilizes drawing, text, printmaking, film, photography, sound and installation. It explores notions of the known and the unknown particularly around re-imagined and alternative histories. Alexandra Hennig, Curator, AIR Krems, Austria noted, ‘Morris’ work, which consists of the most commonplace and insignificant things in our environment, reveals a kaleidoscope of relationships – strange objects, drawings, textiles – and meanders between transfiguration and discomfort, locating the strangeness in the familiar…’ Morris has been the recipient of awards from the Arts Council of N. Ireland, Culture Ireland, Dublin City Council, Derry and Strabane County Council, The Bloody Sunday Trust, and the Dementia Services Development Trust, among others. She was recently awarded the Maurna Crozier Bursary. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows nationally and internationally including China, Austria, Russia, Greece, Italy, Estonia, Georgia, Canada and USA.