From her studio in London, Hannah Morgan works on a variety of projects across art and fashion, ranging from sculpture and performance to trend and colour forecasting. We caught up with Hannah to find out more about how her interest in design began, her inspirations and how collaboration plays a vital role in her work.
Photographs by Ellie Tsatsou.
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and education?
Hi! My name is Hannah Morgan, I am a maker of objects, that spans art, design, and fashion. I’m a native Londoner, and I’m thankfully still able to live and work not far from where I grew up.
My first degree was in Film Theory and English Literature at the University of Sussex. I then went into assisting fashion and photographic art directors, and Trend Forecasting at East Central studios before embarking on a series of making courses (notably Kensington and Chelsea Collage) before ending up in the Fashion Department at the Royal Collage of Art under the supervision of Julie Verhoeven/Tristian Webber/Noel Stewart. It was there that I felt like I had entered Willy Wonka’s factory – the scope of what I could make, think about, and engage with was mind blowing!
After the RCA MA as well as setting up my own practice I worked at Studio Xo for clients such as Wayne McGregor/Lady Gaga. In my own studio I undertake a variety of projects as well as assisting artists such as Julie Verhoeven (as a performer), colour consultant Hilary Scarlett, and collaborating with fantastic creatives like Robert Binet, Ellie Tsatsou, and Liam Hodges.
Do you remember about when you first got interested in design?
It probably started in the Dalston Oxfam when I was a kid, I was given free reign to get my outfit… it was an explosion of expression! I grew up in a family of artists/architects/writers that valued looking analytically at the world, and encouraged the ideas and creativity of even the youngest members. So design, fashion and art were always around, a trick of circumstance and osmosis that initially shaped my interests.
I think design became something that I wanted to know more about as an adult when I studied film for my BA. I was intrigued by the importance of objects in a scene or what the dress of a character signified within the narrative, from a character’s psychological state to a plot twist. It was through the screen that the power of design and its meanings in popular culture were reflected back, and I was hooked.
You describe your work as interdisciplinary, could you tell us a little bit more about it and where your inspiration comes from?
My work has always been about process and ideas and I am interested in the way in which the same ideas can apply across different media and disciplines. I find I’m too inquisitive about different processes and outcomes when investigating a subject or idea. If a photograph/film/sound fulfils a direction, then I’m content with that, if a sculpture works better on a wall than a body, that’s fine. I think in the process of play, discovery, and mishaps are vital as a maker. That need to be definitive has become less important as I went through different education and contexts, I still hold on to some stubbornness though – you know when something is right.
My focus or inspiration comes from trying things out around a subject. Since the RCA I have been investigating the relationship between a body and object. I can’t seem to shake it, probably because the subject can have so many different interpretations and change according to context. It feels like there are infinite possibilities!
At the moment I’ve been looking at Neolithic statues, listening to D’Angelo and the Reith Lectures, watching A.Curtis’ HyperNormalization, eating curry, and if I’m lucky go for long walks in and around the city.
Could you tell us about your collaborative work?
I have always preferred working with other people, especially if they come from a different context or creative background; it’s the easiest way to learn and challenge your work and the world. At the moment I’m very privileged to be working with choreographer Robert Binet, who is based in Canada. We are using his imagination of what a body can do, and my methods of analysing and abstracting form to re-interpret the language of movement in a space. I’m also at the beginnings of a project with the photographer Ellie Tsatsou, looking at making and documenting processes and methods.
Collaboration is key! I recommend it to everyone – even if you’re colluding with someone over the dinner! We are all in part a product of circumstance, who we are friends with, where we are born, etc. I’m so happy and lucky to be where I am right now, and crossing paths with the people I do, it’s a sobering thought in today’s world.
What are your plans for the upcoming months?
At the moment I’m working on an exhibition that will open on 2nd of December, Works in Progress: Haptic Methodologies, at Second Six Galley in Dalston. It is a mixture of sculpture, photographs, film and ephemera looking at the ongoing relationship between my body (as performative) and an object (as static), and its impact on the making process. Also coming up is more collaborative performances with Robert Binet across the pond and here in London.