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Writing (MA)

Hattie Morrison

Hattie Morrison is a writer, artist and arts events coordinator currently touring with a circus in England to research the notion of dust and ephemera. Her writing is fragmentary, melancholy and essayistic with a focus on small communities and rurality. In conversations at dinner parties with new people, you may find her describing her work as 'embellished non-fiction', but she almost always regrets using that term.

She is Young Welsh Writer of the Year, 2022 and a writer on the Representing Wales programme for Literature Wales, 2022.

Before studying online at the Royal College of Art throughout the pandemic, Hattie graduated with a First Class Hons. BFA from The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford on a full socio-economic scholarship. Since 2015, her involvement with literary and art events programming has influenced her writing practice, feeding into her creative output and research focus. She is passionate about public access to arts and culture, and has worked as an editor and writer on projects for the Kyoto Art Centre, United Nations HQ, National Geographic and the BBC.

As a student at the Royal College of Art, Hattie founded and hosted scrawl – an online writing community with members from across the globe who gathered weekly to participate in free auto-writing and prompt-based workshops. Through this group, she was editor of two publications (ending, stopping, closing & Designer as Writer – with Anya Landolt) which are available at Good Press, MAGMA and TACO! in London.

Alongside founding this scrawl, Hattie organised seminars, lectures, workshops and radio shows for ARC MAGAZINE: Proxyerotics as part of the events team for the official Royal College of Art publication of 2021.



Mistranslation. Silences or pauses. Made up words. Key changes. That heaviness on a phone call between two people saying nothing. What do you mean. Rephrasing. Magic similes made across a breakfast table. Words being used like those colourful blocks children play with on a dirty carpet. I am interested in things that make little sense the first time you read them but, as you sit with patience, they open out and bloom. I want to play with language. I want to make, read and write things that bring people together over a page or a screen because one person understands one part and the other person understands the other.

The things I write scatter across a page. I once described my writing process to Donna, a friend I met on this Masters at The Royal College of Art, like this:

When I'm in the shower washing my hair, strands gather in my hands and I wipe them onto the tiles. Lots of them all seperate and spiralled across the cold walls. Eventually, when I've finished washing, I will look at them all apart from one another and push my palm against them, spinning them all together so that they become one mass. Then I pick this mass up and roll my palms together to make one matted ball of hair that holds together somehow.

Throughout my time at the Royal College of Art, I have used fragmentation as a mode to explore notions of the gap. Of omission and of loss. Of emptiness and disjointedness. I write like I think — in bits, interrupted, unclosed chains, dropped stitches.

My final major project VENUS AS A SPINSTER is a series of tableaus that explore loss. Loss in identity. Loss in research. Loss in control. Loss in mourning.

VENUS AS A SPINSTER was written to conclude my Writing Masters at The Royal College of Art. It is an assortment of vignettes positioned to question the erasure of women from Wales’ weaving history at The National Wool Museum. By using translation as both a methodology and a barrier for understanding, this essay highlights the inevitable absences found throughout the production and presentation of knowledge.

Situated in the disused Welsh wool mill where I was raised and currently reside, I try to access an alternative weaving history with women at the fore, by talking to local residents, my mother and the ghost in my bedroom. I rake through the museum’s ‘backroom’, the village graveyard and the story books. I revisit memories, share dreamscapes, and ask a knowledgeable neighbour in a language I no longer grasp fluently, about the undocumented women I convince myself to have existed. I miss the important details. I try again.

Informed by seminal feminist texts on craft and labour, I examine the ways women, thread and care have been kindred for milenia across mythology, society and depiction, to create a text that suggests a radical reworking of archival and historical practice, by prioritising oral and social histories.

VENUS AS A SPINSTER is a love letter to my Mum, a complaint to The National Wool Museum and a homecoming to language. It’s an infatuation with a ghost, and it’s a Welsh blanket embodied – with multiple threads of thought interlocking, growing, building, unravelling and knotting together again. 

Medium:

Book

HOW TO CATCH A DANCE is an archeological essay researching the first documented dance by influential dance group DV8 titled My Sex, Our Dance. By interrogating a tenuous personal connection with Phil Griffin and Lloyd Newson – the original choreographers of the troupe – I uncover archival video, interviews and documents in order to answer the following questions – 

Can you track influence? Can you measure importance? Can you catch a dance?

Medium:

Archeological Research

ARAF MEANS SLOW is a spoken word and research collaboration with The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Responding to a photograph from the museum archive of three women in traditional Welsh dress, photographed by an English historian and researcher, I explore notions of personal identity, bridge crossing, documentation, representation, cultural exchange and translation between Welsh and English communities.

The piece was written to be read. You can hear the audio in the link below.

A COMPOSITE INTERVIEW WITH YOU, NINA LEGER is a disjointed, tableaux formatted interview with writer of french novel Mise en Pieces. Discussing the female gaze, violence of perception and sexualisation of female characters in cinema, the interview takes inspiration from Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

Y HANNER LLE traverses the landscape of rural Wales and questions the notion of construction, liminal space and ritualistic place making. Focusing on a selection of laid out breeze blocks in a rural part of Welsh Carmarthenshire only a stones throw from the home I was raised and lived at the time of writing, these breeze blocks are used as a narrative carrier to question thoughts on family, heritage and home-making.

SWALLOW WITH ME was written in collaboration with a Mukbang performer, kept anonymous as per their request. In response to the ARC: Proxyerotic theme, I was interested in researching and enacting thoughts on shared experience – specifically regarding the observation of eating for pleasure. Time spent in our homes, often alone with computers as company throughout the pandemic, I used the time to question ideas on socially accepted forms of relationships and pleasures.


This piece was performed as part of the Proxyerotics Showcase 2021 online.

Selection of 2020-2022 Material

From 2022-2023, Hattie is working on a new book with funding and support from Literature Wales. She will be mentored by Man Booker Prize nominee Sophie Mackintosh, and will be completing a residency at the National Writing Centre of Wales; Ty Newydd.


To keep up with projects, information and written musings, please click here.