Plaster, exterior paint, alum salt, sugar
Plaster, exterior paint, alum salt, sugar
Precious Boys is a series of sculptures regarding the effects of post-industrial and coastal landscapes, specifically exploring the effects of gender roles and isolation in young men and adolescence. The work is informed and makes homage to the romantic and enlightening portrayals of young men in the small paintings of Francis de Goya depicting boys picking fruit of tress and blowing up sheep bladders. In imitation, these organic forms are formed through plaster casts of medical consumables, contrasting the representations of curiosity and innocence of youths in playing with animal matter, in contrast to contemporary experiences in the journeys of self-awareness in adolescence in relation to affection, sexuality, body-image, or societal pressures which isolate those from wider society. This experience and chronicling of narrative is echoed in the poems and illustrations of William Blake referencing, ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’, specifically the poems ‘Cradle Song’, ‘Infant Song’ and ‘Little Boy Lost’.
Maturing in rural South Essex landscapes characterised by wheat and rape seed fields, abandoned War pilboxes, New Town brutalist architecture, their work explores how post-industrial society or visions of hope have led to changing labour workforces as well as abilities of communities to relate to one another above expectations and pressure. Like post-industrial cities in North East like Tyne and Wear or in South East such as Basildon, which was part of social housing reformation in 1950’s following the displacement of war attempting to merge employment and social housing, under changing economies of 1980’s, the redundant man, gender roles, and stoic nature has resulted in the rise of the ornamental culture of masculinity. Beauty services including gyms, barbers, and beauty parlours for men are now commonplace. Inevitably this has also led to a rise of purchasing of steroids online in order to meet desired ideal beauty standards. Using softwares and google search trends, Morl tracked and traced the frequency of ‘protein’ and ‘steroid’ tag search on online search engines discovering that the prevelance was higher in coastal harbour towns, post industrial towns, and London, where anaoblic steroids are purchased over social media, often now increasingly by younger men. Under this expectation and pressure, and secrecy as men project their edited torsos on instagram often hiding the means achieved by steroids or manipulated further by digital technology, these together further compound the anxieites and pressue, sometimes with tragedy and loss of life due to suicide. Precious Boys essentially in its entirety provides a polarised personal autistic imagined retreat and solace for suffering men to retreat and find solace in whilst also offering a landscape of lifeless yet visually alluring abdomens.
It’s lustrous and alluring appearance compliments a nursery rhyme vision of a person’s journey in seeking to find emotional stability in affection, love, or even validation. Precious Boys is a collection of gloss coated plaster sculptures which rest upon a mass of pigmented salt and sugars. The solutions which have varied in use comprising of alum salts is reminiscent of Victorian children’s pain relief medicines as well as modern treatments referencing HIV patients. The installation as a whole is a contemporary vigil or rather a nursery rhyme for telling the tale of young men who are seeking affection whilst in emotional pain and suffering from a mental illness.
The decorative application of industrial materials for bodily forms, imply an individual’s search for affection under the fragility of mental suffering, reflecting upon the social perceptions of masculinity and how this can lead to a lonely wasteland of youth. Precious Boys confronts society’s problems with masculinity and is a memorial for young men.
“This work was first inspired by walks across moonlit graveyards lighting up gravestones in Canterbury reflecting upon experiences in Essex. This was at a time when I was writing numerous poems and texts about men's loneliness and the relationship between technology and the body. I was immensely inspired by 20th Century war poems and Blake's tales of experiences and representations of morality and nurture amongst sorrow and angst. I identified this as a struggle to seek affection in a notably post-industrial landscape. With a sense of crippling fear of loneliness, or anxiety about one's appearance in order to be accepted, this is especially pertinent in the queer community. Precious Boys is a visual nursery rhyme depicting the apparent abdomens of men laying upon the ground. The overhead organ instrumental is eclipsed by the harmony of men crying and moaning like the war torn fields in the Battle of the Somme. Whereas war was the defying image of early 1900's, the silent disguised sheer plethora of suffering of digital technology users sharing images of torsos and muscles is the image of today. To feel like we can be loved, we first have to feel validated”
︎ Further Reading
Platform Artist Focus, Contemporary Visual Art Network, 30 April 2019
Platform Award Alumni Stories: George Morl, CVAN, 13 May 2019
George Morl, Precious Boys, Southend Museum Blog, 20 July 2018
Morl George, George Morl’s Precious Boys at Southend Museum, CVAN South East, 10 July 2018
Precious Boys, Southend Museums, 14 July - 08 September 2018
Platform 2016, Turner Contemporary, 04 August - 25 September 2016
︎ Assosiated Awards
Darren Henley Scholarship, 2016
Platform Award, 2016, Nominated
UCA Vice Chancellor Award, 2016