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Dem Bones

Written by Justin Morrissey

As I embarked on this creative residency project, I tried to bring certain elements together in a way that created meaning. There are obvious motifs that are referred back to within the works such as economy and the landscape. The artworks hope to remind us that we often overlook the material used in the everyday items we collect and cherish within our homes. I’ve relished referencing the games that have entertained generations of families in their domestic life and used primarily as an escape from the mundane.

Atlas Bailing Out, 2016, is a work which reflects upon the many family holidays we took as kids and times we spent piecing together jigsaw puzzles with both sets of grandparents, and how the puzzle was a challenge to find harmony that we all enjoyed together. The cuttlefish we collected on the beaches were, for me at least, these bizarre objects washed up on the shore, that were neither from the land or the sea. The density of the cuttlefish bone consisting of many layers, assumably created by many years of growth. When objects are washed up on the shoreline it reminds me that the time in which we inhabit is only very temporary.

At a residency in the USA, in July 2015, I undertook a cuttlebone casting course with a very talented metalworker Michael Bonadio (Bones). He introduced me to the softness of the cuttlefish and its ability to leave a trace of the layered texture upon the molten pewter.

Solitary Confinement, 2015, was the first exploration of this material, poured overseas and set into the piece of coal in Katoomba, Blue Mountains. Coal is an extremely hard, and compacted material, when you carve it, it creates a really fine dust, which is really toxic to your health. The smell whilst carving it even with a facemask was unmistakable. As I drift off to sleep most nights, carriage after carriage of coal, flows over the Blue Mountains and the sound of the coal carts bumping together puts me to sleep; so it is little wonder that I am drawn to this material.

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With the exception of Solitary Confinement, 2015, all of the pewter was poured at Skyfire studio throughout January. I would adorn my mask and breathing protection, heat the pewter objects collected randomly throughout op shops from Leichardt, Tathra, Katoomba and Bermagui and pour into cuttlefish molds, lodged in a sand bucket.

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Outbreak, 2016, is so titled because the pewter literally broke the mold. When it was poured it filled the mould and then enveloped it. I liked the way it felt a little like how a cuttlefish might look as it drifted in the sea.

It has been a great experience working here at Skyfire Studio and my thanks must go to Paige Lampkin and Philip Crandall. My thanks must also go to Caoife Power who worked alongside me to create her works.

Home is where the art is

Written by Justin Morrissey

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In 1992, the 2cent piece was removed from circulation from Australian currency. The coin featured a Frill Neck Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii), a reptile endemic to northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. The rationale for removing the coin was that it had outgrown its usefulness – the material was now more expensive to produce than the face value of the coin. It was introduced in only 1966, so had a lifespan and a purpose of not more than 27 years. These coins were traded all over Australia, at corner stores and banks in towns and cities they were deposited in amazing volumes. In its first year of production some $150 million worth were created. For generations born post-1992 these coins will have no value and will be resolved as a historical artefact. I feel a little uneasy with this. I liken the story of the 2 cent piece, if I may anthropomorphous the Frill Neck Lizard emblazon on the coin as a symbol for the Australian environment and in particular the environment in which humans trade.

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The Great Divide, 2015, is a literal play on words and is set up to explore my current home in the Blue Mountains, which technically speaking is a sedimentary plateau and a part of the Great Dividing Range. The work reconfigures the traditional affluent gilded frame into a mountain landscape and signals the divide between the very wealthy and the average Australian, the 4 (6)

Mules (2014, p.1) refers to the human nature relation thus ”The fundamental threat facing humans today is our inability to live in a non-exploitative relation to the natural world.” In the relatively short settlement of Sydney by european settlers, by 1984, 79.8% of north-western Sydney had been cleared and several significant areas since then destroyed (Antcliffe, 1988). Approximately 1% of Western Sydney is reserved for conservation (Benson, 1991; Cohn & Hastings, 1994). As acclaimed German artist Joseph Beuys commented to Richard De Marko in 1982 in response to his infamous artwork 7000 Oak Trees, “I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time.” As he states the “tree” has always been seen as symbolic of life itself.

The series of works, Copper and Bark Studies #1-7, 2016, seek to find a harmony between the extruded copper; mined, rolled and sold, with bark collected from the forest floor. The bark is soaked for some time in a glass jar until it becomes malleable like the copper and the copper informs upon the bark its shape and form. The bark dries and becomes rigid again.

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In Growth Domestic Product, 2016, I weave the copper strips through found bark to create a tartan pattern, perhaps mimicking a clan group of Irish immigrants ancestors past. The title suggests that we overlook the “growth” or decline of nature when we look at our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is an indicator of the “health” of a country’s economy. If it is incline the country is prospering and vice versa. However it only takes into account job creation, industrial production and output such as mining, housing figures where houses are bought or sold. Brewing your own beer and growing your own vegetables doesn’t equate. If we were to include planting trees and cleaning up waterways what would our true ‘Growth Domestic Product’ be?

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Antcliffe, P 1988, Birds and Mammals of North-western Sydney. Masters Thesis, University of Technology, Sydney.

Cohn, J. & Hastings, S. (1994) The Conservation of Native vegetation Remnants in Southern Hawkesbury City Council Local Government Area. NSWNPWS report to Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Save the Bush Project m208.

Mules, W 2014, With Nature: Nature Philosophy as Poetics through Schelling, Heidegger, Benjamin and Nancy, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.


Sculpture at Scenic World

In 2014, I’ve taken on the role of Exhibition Manager for a very unique rainforest exhibition – Sculpture at Scenic World. I’m very excited to be staging the 4th annual event held in Katoomba, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia. I’ve been in the role for only 3 weeks, and already it is starting to feel like home. I’m working with a great team and I’m looking forward to receiving submissions for the exhibition to be staged on April 15th- May 10th 2015. If you’re thinking about submitting an proposal head along here:

Silver Screen Pictures

Along side uber talented Director/Producer Alex Barnes, Justin Morrissey has been working for the past 7 years alongside a team of creatives who share our vision for presenting the best most innovative ideas to screen. Silver Screen Pictures is a company with fantastic ideas for the screen just bursting at the seams. Their home is sunny Brisbane, but the world is their oyster. They can bring ideas to life from concept to delivery; whether micro doc, TVC, split screen video installations, anything you can dream up. They love screen media and are determined to create unique and compelling content that raises the bar and expectations for both clients and audiences. Their work is broadcast credited and has appeared on ABC TV, Foxtel’s NITV, Qantas Inflight domestic and international, and at film festivals around the globe and online.  The creative spirit, drive, determination and vision is what brings to life the colourful and vibrant stories to audiences.

In his background of film production, programming and production, he has worked for the Brisbane International Film Festival, Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the Sydney Film Festival, Antenna International Documentary Film Festival. He produced the award winning ‘Not a Willing Participant’. He holds an Advanced Diploma in Screen and Media Multiplatform Producing from Metroscreen.

You can visit their webiste for more information HERE

Weekend Notes – Writer

Justin has been writing for Weekend Notes for only a short period of time – you can view his work by clicking below: 


You will find articles about what is happening around Brisbane, Queensland and Australia wide. If you’ve got an interesting event or scoop you’d like to promote, please contact Justin to write about it. 



BNE ART – Writer

In 2014, Justin began covering the art scene in Brisbane for BNE ART

BNE ART is an independent digital visual arts guide. The information network is updated with the latest events and opportunities, alongside current local arts information. The platform is available through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, iPhone, Android and the Web.

BNE ART is a live-archive resource and access point for the online public wishing to learn more about Brisbane’s visual arts sector. With the purpose of audience development and education, BNE ART continues to develop into a more resourceful, critical and functional tool for a local, national and international audience.

This initiative has been supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and is proudly produced by Vegas Spray ARI.

Check out the link below for more info:


Multiplatform Producer