MOTHER… a new sculptural installation explores connections between nature and mental health

A number of reports over the last few years have confirmed, unsurprisingly, that connecting with nature offers a new approach to mental health care. The latest spotlight on nature’s potential in this arena comes in the form of a new commission by Studio Morison which explores the links between the natural world and mental health.

Entitled MOTHER…, the large sculptural artwork — which will be on display at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire from 29 February — created by Heather and Ivan Morison took inspiration from Richard Mabey’s book Nature Cure, in which the author recovers from depression through walking and writing about the eastern region’s unexplored landscapes.

The vessel like form of the sculpture, alongside its title, connotes universal ideas of protection, nurturing, and birth. Indeed, a key reference for the artists is the song Mother, from IDLES debut 2017 album Brutalism — a song that expresses an anger and frustration at the modern world, and its impact on our individual and family lives. Ivan Morison, artist, comments:

The work also references local building traditions, materials and architectural vernacular to root the structure in the landscape it is a part of, indeed, its form is an interpretation of the remarkable hayricks once found dotting this countryside. Says Donna Lynas, Director, Wysing Arts Centre:

The timber used in the framing was felled from the artists own forest and milled by the artists at their workshops. The walls and roof are made from local straw, the thatching of which has been done in the traditional style by a master thatcher whose first job as an apprentice was to thatch a hayrick on this very site. The work, with its deep entranceways, ceiling oculus and high double layered conical ceiling, is an architectural space to enter; re-framing visitors’ experience of the landscape of Wicken Fen, the sky, the light and the materials that surround them.

It has been commissioned by Cambridgeshire based Wysing Arts Centre as part of the region-wide arts commissioning programme, New Geographies, which aims to bring contemporary art to unexpected places in the East of England. All locations for art works were nominated by members of the public — in this case Wicken Fen suggested for its “sublime peaty landscape”. Says Sarah Smith, General Manager, Fenland:

While the sculpture now exists independent of its creators, the idea of engagement and interaction remains at its core. To that end, a programme of events conceived by the artists will take place at the pavilion throughout Spring this year. Working with a diverse group of writers, performers, artists, musicians, naturalists and campaigners, the artists have shaped each event to include elements of hospitality, sound, singing, literature, performance, talking and participation in order to offer strange new insights and unexpected readings of the work (full details below).

All images credit: Studio Morison, MOTHER…, 2020. Photo: Charles Emerson, Courtesy of Wysing Arts Centre and National Trust for New Geographies

For more Information:



29th February 2020

Launches the programme with a new performance work by the artists presenting a mythic reading of MOTHER… as transformational vessel.


28th March 2020

Tackles the idea of the wild and the re-wilding of the fen, with guest speakers, sounds and hospitality.


25th April 2020

Explores mental health and the disconnect between modern life and the natural world through a jarring mixture of performance, singing and technology.


23rd May 2020

Connects us back to the place we are from — our families, our communities and the landscapes we occupy — through readings and music.

Freelance journalist covering fine art, photography, film and tech. UK based

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