Morrison Polkinghorne’s first solo Australia show will be held at Turbo Gallery in Rainbow, fitting he says, as a rainbow symbolises hope, new beginnings, and transformation. The exhibition covers the former expat artist’s years living in Southeast Asia through artworks, video and augmented reality.
Morrison Polkinghorne uniquely creates an art form from fresh cut lotus stalk as his brush, and ink distilled from its flower. His art is holistic and regenerative, while his message is universal. This artistic journey has taken him from Cambodia — the source of his art — to exhibitions in Paris, Bangkok, and now to Rainbow, Victoria.
During Morrison’s eight years living in Cambodia he developed his skills by mastering ink from local distillations, which he then uses to paint his drawings. His ink derives from lotus flowers, ever plentiful in Southeast Asia and symbolic of Buddhism’s holistic renewal. It is both literally and figuratively Sacred Ink. Equally important is the spiritual importance of numerology, as he painstakingly records the number of lotus impressions on each work and tallies the grand sum of his accumulative efforts. Hence the title “125,029” for this exhibition.
These paintings exhibit his technique of coating cut lotus stalks into the ink, then pressed onto paper, creating shaded impressions with its markings. His pieces incorporate aspects of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, and a single work may total up to 20,000 impressions.
The artist left Cambodia due to covid in 2020, returning to his native Australia with a large body of artwork and several global exhibitions and awards under his belt, including “top international artist” in Chicago in 2020. Morrison now lives in Australia’s vast Mallee outback, specifically Murrayville, straddling the Victoria-South Australia borders, where he is renovating a century-old brick church for both home and studio.
Morrison brought enough of his ink back to Australia for an estimated future five years of paintings, but alas, initially found insufficient lotus stalks available for him to paint with here. Restricted in creating future ink drawings, he put on hold selling his ink works for three years, until ensuring future supplies. That changed last November, when he temporarily returned to Cambodia to paint again. There, he created what he says are his best works to date. He recently donated a work to Ecole Paul Dubrule college in Siem Reap for a charity auction whose bid was won by the French Ambassador for the embassy residence in Phnom Penh.
Morrison’s love of handmade items remain his forte, as he was previously known for decorative arts, specifically artisanal and bespoke passementeries tassels and trimmings. His textile designs grace the prime minister’s Kirribilli House, Vaucluse House in Sydney, and other prestige Historic Homes in the country.