A History of Robotics


The title of this painting A history of robotics is suggestive of Morrison’s lateral approach to history. In combining the historical and the futuristic, Eastern and Western mythology, the natural and the man-made, the verdant and the apocalyptic, Morrison creates an alternate cross-section of time, where these layers of history all come together to create an imagined reality.


Morrison’s works often recollect the artist’s youth in Papua New Guinea, through references to the country’s environment and culture. In A History of Robotics, two figures in the middle distance stand dressed in tall, structural woven costumes from the Bamu River in PNG. The carved wooden heads which crown these figures echo the forms of two stone carvings which sit in moss on the banks of a creek in the painting’s foreground. These prehistoric objects of mysterious origin are considered sacred by the present-day inhabitants of Papua New Guinea, and are used as spirit stones in sorcery and other rituals for their supposed supernatural powers.


Indigenous and introduced species of flora and fauna co-exist, and remnants of colonisation are overshadowed by the surrounding landscape. A colonial Australian hut with a bark roof sits empty whilst a white bull mirrors the hut’s unmoving form. The dynamism of a kingfisher in flight gives life to the parched plain and draws the eye to the cornucopia of flourishing plant life in the foreground. A coral reef flows like a miracle at the base of the painting, with the blooms of coral reflecting the blooms of pink cloud in the sky.


Morrison’s paintings add another dimension to the important genre of Australian landscape painting, by weaving together dialogues from our own land and that of our neighbours, our past, present and future.


Chloe Wolifson