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July 9, 2015

Morgan Allender: Seeing Spring

Opening an exhibition that invokes spring with its title but things much deeper and more personal with its content, Morgan Allender draws us in with her paintings which are not quite still life and not quite landscape.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Joshua Fanning

CityMag first came across Morgan Allender as the owner of florist The Tenth Meadow. As we followed her unusually beautiful and moody Instagram feed, we were fascinated by her unconventional approach to flower arrangement, light and space.


Morgan Allender’s Seeing Spring is on show at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Artspace Gallery from July 8 to August 23. The gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 11am – 4pm.

Her practice with flowers is unavoidably linked to what came before and what is now emerging once again as a future possibility – a career as a fine art painter.

Before The Tenth Meadow, Morgan had spent years working the art circuit. She started the florist both to create a reliable income stream and as an antidote of sorts to the politics of existing in the world of galleries and dealers.

New exhibition Seeing Spring signals a return to the art world, but Morgan is taking a much more individual approach this time around. Rather than creating works made with commercial imperatives in mind, this body of art has been supported by Country Arts SA’s Breaking Ground Award, which gave Morgan the chance to spend a year developing pieces under the mentorship of fellow painter Mary-Jean Richardson.

The resulting images draw together the threads of Morgan’s creative lifetime.

“These are not traditional landscape paintings – subject and colour morph into the surreal, horizons shift and melt away, or cease to exist at all, Rather, they are landscapes of the mind, imagined places that carry with them a sense of Place that is both personal and vast,” writes Morgan in her artist statement.

We visit the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Artspace Gallery as Morgan is finishing up installation of the seven paintings. When we arrive she is in the middle of the space, power tools in hand, working on what appears to be some kind of elaborate flower arrangement.

“I’m not putting it on the floor sheet like it’s a work, it’s kind of more an evocative piece,” she says gesturing to the arrangement. “It’s to put everything in context, I just wanted to do something that would bring a bit of the farm down and put the work into context for people.”

The environment of her farm, where she grows her flowers, can be felt in the exhibition but of course it is only one of many influences. Morgan doesn’t like the idea of prescribing a meaning for others to assign to her paintings – preferring to allow people to bring their own lens to them – but she does give some background to her thinking as they were evolving.

“These paintings are about feeling. Not feelings, but rather the verb feeling: the emotive process of something being felt,” she says.

“Because these paintings were made in an attempt to capture visually something felt, they are also about this physical process, the act of painting; the imperfect beauty of human dexterity.”

Whatever you might see as you look at the surreal, dark and fluid lines of Morgan’s paintings, it will be captivating, and will create an anticipation for the month of art soon to be upon us when SALA launches in August.

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