January 18 to March 3, 1996
You’ve just gotten out of your truck, walked across the parking lot, climbed the stairs, opened the door and stepped into the dimly lit lower chamber of the Prince George Art Gallery. You kick the snow off of your boots, stuff your toque into your pocket, hang up your coat and enter into Phil Morrison’s exhibit, “The Pattern Seeker and the Flow.” On the way in you bump into an old friend, a very old friend. Wow! It’s been a long time, he looks different, barely recognizable, and damn you’ve forgotten his name. That almost embarrassing kind of panic just starts to set in when you notice...what’s that...a name tag.
Meet Cut Sphere a 300lb concrete and rebar sculpture cut into the 2,500-year-old shape of a dodecahedron. Pythagoras’ fifth perfect solid, the “sphere with twelve pentagons.” In a voice from the distant past Cut Sphere welcomes you, with his comfortable pattern he invites you in, and then whispers, “I used to be a sphere remember.” You look and see pieces of rebar inching out from the surface of his many sides like whiskers after a shave, they are growing back. Yes, Cut Sphere is growing back towards a memory of his original form, the sphere. He reveals a deep longing and need. This “growth back” also exposes the psyche’s unique ability to step out of life’s unstoppable flow forward and hide from, hunt for , or even heal the cuts from its past.
Move on and you’ll find Dormant Seed, another concrete and rebar sculpture. Here we have a concrete block with its eight corners seemingly detached and radiating out from its centre. Like the telling of a secret, mouth-like cavities open to reveal a concrete sphere suspended within the centre of the block. Protected and nurtured, or confined and held captive by the still dominant geometry of its shell? Prison or womb? Dormant Seed sleeping, dreaming of growth only to awake with the surrender and death of the old form.
Further in, Chrysalid. An emerging new form is introduced. This flowing form, ripe with curve, swells within the containment of a slab-like piece of block. The contrasting curved and straight lines fight for dominance, but temporarily achieve this almost playful sense of balance. When one gives, the other takes. You feel the flow may just escape into the unknown, and that the block has had to sacrifice something in order to maintain this balance. Expected and unexpected, known and unknown live here.
Evolution of the Spine, here we have the only horizontal piece in the exhibit. Angular and organic form woven together in a symmetrical blend of contrasting line. Muscle and mind coming together to form the backbone of some new, architectural organism. Glimpse inside the cocoon and feel the excitement of witnessing the development of something totally new, the “birth of species.”
The struggle between form continues. Geometry, the clear winner in this particular battle, named The Need and the Flow. The old block, a concrete cage, sits firmly in control at the centre of the sculpture. Inside the cage, the body of the new form tries to outgrow the restriction imposed by the block. The block remains the block, familiar and unchanged, the new form however has dimension grown, gained more definition and added a somewhat sensual dimension to the overall piece.
Next is Ambivalence. We’re not swimming in the murky waters here, where anything vertical can be interpreted as a phallic symbol, no this is clearly and definitely a phallic symbol. The phallus throughout history has been used, even worshipped as a symbol of a generating force in nature. Ambivalence puts a late 20th century twist on the ancient symbol. A concrete phallus simultaneously supported and strangled by a twisted piece of rebar. Modern male spirit held back, struggling, straining, far away from the celebration and worship of its historical counterpart.
The last sculpture in the exhibition is Desire and Discipline. This bizarre concrete form erupts upwards like a tree trunk, a strong and powerful growing force. But every time it tries to burse out a new branch, a square slab of concrete is there to pinch it off before it gets too far. These “remnants if the block” hang on in a desperate attempt to control the flow of the tree form. This isn’t the setting of limits, this isn’t a directing of the flow, this is discipline to the point of diminishment. An incredibly strong, boundless growing energy, restricted and rendered limp, powerless. Wounded will. Life tamed damn near to the point of extinction.
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