Mary-Jane Morris, Finding water, 2020
Mary-Jane Morris has practiced as an environmental scientist for around 30 years and has been painting seriously since 1996. Having moved from Cape Town in 2014, she now lives and works on a farm outside Sedgefield. She has developed her art practice through self-study together with regular classes and workshops., both locally and internationally. Given her environmental background, Mary-Jane’s art is concerned with the human/nature interface. She has participated in several group exhibitions both whilst living in Cape Town and since moving to the Garden Route. Her work can be found in private collections in South Africa, the U.K and U.S.A.
"Yes, you are in this water, and the water is in you" - Credo Mutwa
Does humankind see itself as part of nature or as separate, perhaps even superior to nature? Having worked in the environmental field for over 30 years, this question frequently occupies my thoughts. The consequences of a relationship based on dominion over nature are evident all around us. Exploring the connectedness between humankind and nature is central to my artistic practice. In this body of work I explore connections between water and weather. Water flows and moves from the oceans, to the sky, to rivers and to the ground – all of which happens through natural processes. Although these processes can be explained scientifically – to me they are pure magic. Our bodies are made up of mostly water - an absolute manifestation of our connection to nature. Finding water can be seen as a metaphor for finding within ourselves the deep-seated need for connection to nature and for the reintegration of humanity into the community of life.
Mary-Jane Morris' art provides an example of the interdisciplinary intersection between art and science. There is a reciprocal relationship between the artist's field of interest in her art and her active career in environmental science. Her familiarity with the scientific language of data, statistics and mathematical formulae transmutes into her preference for an abstract language of expression in her art. Morris prefers to engage with nature on an experiential level and as a result of her participation and specialisation in water projects, she has worked with the subject matter of water in her art production for a number of years now. She also experienced the Great Fire of 2017 in the Sedgefield/Knysna area when the fire started on the farm next door. The themes of fire and water in this body of work are therefore both highly personal and scientifically derivative.--edg