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"...All that travel time into a single moment": An Interview with Amber Morrison

This month's featured image, Primordial, comes from Amber Morrison, an artist and writer from British Columbia. We were wowed by the way her sense of light and color renders the familiar strange and asks the viewer to reconsider the world around them. She talks about her approach here:

Lashes

What drew you to Split Lip? How does this month's featured image, "Primordial" speak to that? I respect how Split Lip gathers an eclectic blend of fiction, non fiction, poetry, music, and art and presents it as not only coherent, but also in a way that's stylish af. The December theme of dreams and fairytales is a perfect fit for Primordial as it is from my long running series of dreamlike musings on everyday life. Primordial was captured at the dam a few blocks from my home. It was an unusually warm evening and the still water was a perfect reflection of the forest that surrounded it. The inverted trees in the lake were otherworldly; both beautiful and unnerving. I was reminded of poet Gwendolyn MacEwen and her penchant for myth making, and specifically her poem Dark Pines Under Water:

This land like a mirror turns you inward And you become a forest in a furtive lake; The dark pines of your mind reach downward, You dream in the green of your time, Your memory is a row of sinking pines

Framed

In addition to creating art, you also write short fiction. Do you find that you explore similar themes in both forms? Does one form let you do something the other doesn't? Intellectually, I rationalize a story as a road to travel. Stories need time to unfold and develop, whereas a poem is like allowing someone else to take the wheel and you're in the passenger seat. An image, however, is more like a shortcut because it compresses all that travel time into a single moment. I would like to say that I choose whichever one is best suited to the idea, but my process is a bit more spontaneous than that. In general, I find that my fiction is more of an exploration and is a bit more impersonal than my photographs. I see writing as a way to reach past the boundaries of my own experiences, as opposed to my pictures, which depict what I encounter or have physically available. One of the few recurring themes across all of my disciplines is the role of art and artists in society. That, and black comedy. It's important not to take things too seriously!

Wasted

Primordial is part of a larger series on your website, Visual Diary. The use of color in these photos immediately grabs the viewer. To us, it worked well with the fairytale theme that emerged in this particular issue -- there is something both magical and wonderfully unsettling about it. Can you talk about how you approach color in your work and your inspiration for employing color in this way? Basically, I’ve always wanted to mess with space and time, so in Visual Diary I endeavored to create a dreamy alternate reality with grounded elements from my everyday life. When a mundane object is paired with the ‘wrong’ colour it’s like a shift in what’s possible, so it’s not a stretch to dream up a new world with this one choice alone. I think it’s like pushing together puzzle pieces that look right but otherwise don’t fit. It’s an experiment in seeing, or maybe it’s just a type of play. That said, I didn't create this alternate space to escape reality. I think it becomes easier to talk about the clash between nature and culture, or our issues with consumption and disposal if everything is in hues of soft pink. Pastel colours are one of my go to choices because they can be so disarming at first glance, yet at the same time, there's something very disturbing about construction equipment that's baby blue, or a heap of lavender trash. The series is still ongoing and can be viewed on my website at www.ambervisualartist.com, or you can check it out on Instagram @ambervisualartist.

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All art appears courtesy of Amber Morrison.


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