Fermented Preserves

9 April - 1 May 2021

Fish Becomes Bird


Gaps in knowledge, mixing of metaphors, un-straight answers. Sometimes things are misunderheard, sometimes they are absorbed, taken in through a sweet form of osmosis.


Georgia Morgan’s maternal grandparents migrated to Malaysia from India around 1930, as part of a second wave of Indian migration to colonial British Malaya. Approximately 40 years before their migration, in 1892, Alfred Clouet, a French citizen, founded the Ayam Brand in Singapore. The brand was established as a signifier of quality canned food, a luxury comestible primarily produced for colonial staff, and not intended for the general public. Clouet chose the rooster, the unofficial emblem of his home country for the brand’s logo. The Gallic cock was extemporaneously adopted by local traders and consumers, who referred to canned sardines or salmon as ayam (the Malay word for "chicken" or "rooster"), allowing fish to become bird.


Georgia’s mother, born and raised in Malaysia, migrated to Australia in 1985, and Georgia grew up with a diffused yet tacit understanding of her mother’s cultural heritage and practices. As much of this knowledge has become dislocated, attenuated and at times out of reach, Georgia enjoys an intuitive pursuit of piecing together fragments of information. Part of this process includes an enduring pastime of attending her mother’s cooking of Ayam sardine curry, and while Georgia, absorbed in the experience, may not grasp the exact recipe, she inherently ‘gets it’ through proximity, gesture and osmosis.


Georgia’s art practice has been referred to as ‘bitsy’, which could mean that it’s eclectic, or fragmentary, or supports an informal body of disparate things. There is however a deep sense that Georgia uses her practice to perceptively piece material together, knowledge, substance and image, and when she places significance into what she calls ‘an imagined archive’, she is placing trust in fragments that emerge from an opaque story. Her processes of fathoming help shape a lore together that is vital to her.


Georgia’s ceramic works are imbued with abstracted oral histories, a collection of aniconic artefacts that hold implicit familial practice and knowledge significant to her. Georgia’s image making is located within the textural grittiness of her contemporary life, and whilst ostensibly whimsical, belies a deceptive deftness in conflating personal myth, emblem and dream.


The forms do not quite function as mnemonic triggers, as the codes within her work are not focused on remembering. Rather, if Georgia Morgan’s artworks were tools, they could be considered as devices for fathoming.


Lucy Bleach

March 2021