I have decided to stick with love — this quote by Martin Luther King became the cornerstone for The Temple of Agape, a temporary installation designed by graphic artists Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan at Southbank Centre, London, for their 2014 Festival of Love. Done as a scaffolded structure in plywood, it was true to Myerscough’s use of colour and typography. Taking on the Greek connotations of the word as love for humanity, it had letters in bright neon colours saying ‘talk’, ‘strong’ and ‘circle’. Once inside the pavilion, cut outs on the façade allowed light to stream into the space, enchanting the audience with its quietness and simplicity. “Until something is actually built, you don’t know how it will be. Will it be warm or cold? How will the sun feel inside? Will it be dark in there?
One never knows, and it’s that unpredictability that I find exciting,” says Myerscough. She was a speaker at the India Design ID 2019 symposium, held in Delhi last week.
Her aim of making connections and designing joyous spaces has led to many projects in the public realm, in exhibitions and on streets, besides hospitals, cafes and schools. Last year, Myerscough’s work Belonging toured around Sussex, working with nine communities to reaffirm ideas of togetherness, love and social justice. Her first mobile installation, the bright bandstand was adorned with placards made by the different communities in each of these areas.
Growing up in a home with a musician father and a textile artist mother, Myerscough always waited for the circus to come to town. Its fantasy world never failed to impress her. “I was surrounded by music and colour in my childhood. However, most of the design and architecture then was minimalist, grey and concrete. So in my work I wanted to use a wider palette,” says Myerscough, 55.
It’s therefore against this brutalist concrete backdrop that she places many of her works. She recalls the time she came to Delhi, nearly 10 years ago. “One of the images I recall is from 2008. There were these big concrete flyovers coming up, and next to one such was a huge figure of Hanuman. It was an amazing moment to see how the temple breaks through the fabric of the city itself. I like to work in such brutalist environments to show the contrast and importance of colour. You can change a drab street into a better journey. My work attempts to bring out that beauty, to make streets more joyous, more palatable,” she says.
She recently finished a 200-metre installation in a hospital in Sweden based on her mood tweets, when she posted on Twitter in colour for over two years. “In the future, I want to work with poets and writers. I want to do more creative writing. Luke and I are moving towards building our work into a level of performance where if we create a stage, we hope to use it to the fullest,”