Utopian fruit column

September 2012 / News from Nowhere, Merton House Priory Museum, London SW19
English elm, brass screws, battery lights / 214 x 29 x 19 cms

My work engages both with William Morris’s utopian novel News from Nowhere and with the space occupied by the Priory museum and ruins.

I was struck by the dissonance between Morris’s light filled utopia and the dark, subterranean location of the museum.

Introducing an artwork about Morris into this space felt challenging – the architecture of the space spans 9 centuries and the museum already holds a disparate collection of objects. The fact that the ceiling is effectively the underside of a dual carriageway – the A24, something which Morris would have loathed, adds to the dissonance.

I made a set of 21 ‘utopian fruit boxes’ to form a column which appears to support the ceiling and hence the road above. My boxes are the same size and design as traditional small fruit boxes, but made as beautifully as possible, using English elm, which would have pleased Morris.

In its own mini utopia, with its imagined cargo of fruit, Utopian fruit column supports the intolerable weight of the road above it.