During the past term, the Hall had the distinct pleasure of hosting Prof. John Morrell of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Prof. Morrell is a working artist specializing in watercolor landscapes; during his time in Oxford John worked on a number of on-site studies of the local environs in preparation for a larger exhibit in America in the coming months. The image (left) is one of those studies: A view of the Thames at Oxford, known as the Isis.
Recently Prof. Morrell exhibited some of his work for the Hall community, revealing a number of similarly striking pieces that all displayed the same sensitivity to light, water, and space.
John also described his development as an artist, from his earliest student days in Brittany, France, to his grisaille period painting the backwoods of New England, to his current work from Washington, D.C. A lively Q&A followed.
Prof. Morrell reflects: "Frequently, I draw and paint on site, based on direct observation. The distinction of on site work is the meditative and observational process of time. To be still in one place, observing for several hours, noticing different aspects of a place over time shapes my vision; investing it with personal infor- mation that a recording on film or disk cannot com- municate. I become absorbed in a place, and my selectivity, my choices of what to record on my canvas or paper, become my art... Painting the land- scape directly may seem to create the conditions for a more realistic depiction. My experience, rather, is an inevitably subjective response to the landscape. It is not, in my opinion, fidelity to an unknowable objective rendition. I believe a distinct aesthetic of my work is derived from the subjective response to sensation in the particular moment and place."