THE DIARY: Artist ‘comes home’

Paul Morrison with his work, Stipe
Paul Morrison with his work, Stipe
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ARTIST Paul Morrison doesn’t like to say much. He prefers to let his work to do the talking.

“There seems to be this need always to focus on people in modern culture,” says the 46-year-old of Broomhill, pictured above. “I just want the art to be appreciated for what it is.”

So let’s do that a second.

For that art – sculptures, paintings, films and giant murals – has been exhibited at the world’s finest galleries in more than 50 countries. It has been described as some of the most exciting imagery currently being created on the planet. And – in the case of one huge installation in New York City – it has sold for a sum which puts your average South Yorkshire house price rather in the shade.

Yet while this work has been appreciated everywhere from London’s Royal Academy to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, it has never gone on display right here in Sheffield.

Until, that is, next month.

Then the city’s Millennium Gallery is to host Paul’s first-ever show on home turf with more than 25 of his pieces taking over much of the complex.

“What’s the best thing about having an exhibition here?” muses the father-of-four whose studio is in Persistence Works, Brown Street, city centre. “Well, it will be a lot less travelling.”

Indeed.

There has been plenty of travelling which has got Paul to this point.

Born in Liverpool, he originally moved to Sheffield in 1985 to do a Fine Art degree at what was then the city’s polytechnic.

Seeking to progress his career he moved away again in 1988, earning a place at London’s famous Goldsmiths College of Art. From there, he was immediately in demand with galleries around the world seeking to display his work – striking, often ominous black and white collage images.

“Goldsmiths has a reputation so if you’re there doing good work, people do take notice of you,” he says modestly.

Since then he has displayed everywhere you might expect (Paris, Zurich, Tokyo) and a few places you might not. “Honolulu was an interesting one,” he notes.

Paul, who moved back to Sheffield in 2005, collects images from various sources – cartoons, cinematic shots, Renaissance prints and botany books – and stores them on a hard drive. He then digitally manipulates selected images and weaves them together into a single picture. It means here a sunflower from a modern text book may tower over a house from a 15th century print.

Paul again: “Because each piece use images from other places one person might look at a picture and see a house as being from an Albert Durer print from 500 years ago but someone else might see the Bates motel or something. I’m setting triggers and you can get from them what you want.”

And now he’s delighted to be displaying in Sheffield – at last.

“There’s no reason why I haven’t before,” he says. “It just hadn’t happened. This was the first invite I had. I had no hesitation in agreeing.”

Paul Morrison: Auctorum runs at Millennium Gallery, June 7 - November 4.