Callum Morton

Callum Morton, The Other Side
Callum Morton, The Other Side, 2014, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view of the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) at Cockatoo Island. Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney. Created for the 19th Biennale of Sydney. This project was made possible through the generous support of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, Juliana Engberg and Kay Campbell, and with assistance from Monash Art Design & Architecture. Photograph: James Horan/Destination NSW

Born 1965 in Montreal, Canada
Lives and works in Melbourne, Australia

For the 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, internationally acclaimed Australian artist Callum Morton has transformed the Dog-Leg Tunnel of Cockatoo Island into a readymade site for The Other Side (2014) – an experiential, ghost-train inspired journey. Visitors will enter into the tunnel on a purpose-built train and, once inside, will be transported through the tunnel and experience a range of surprises devised by the artist. Morton will use light, sound, wind and smoke to create a type of black hole or deep universe, an elemental atmosphere that is unexpected in rides of this type. This elemental darkness is the base note for what will be both magical and frightening.

About The Other Side

  • The train departs every 15 minutes between 11 am–3.45 pm daily.
  • Tickets are free and are allocated for each ride. Please ask the Biennale staff member outside the ride for tickets for the next available time slot. Keep your ticket and bring it with you when you return – your ticket is your entry.
  • There are 12 people per ride, 3 in each carriage.
  • The ride is under 5 minutes and ends on the other side of Cockatoo Island, opposite the Docks Precinct.
  • A limited number of non-ticket holders may be allowed on depending on available seats, but ticket holders will be given preference.

The trope of the island includes concepts of utopian and dystopian places – often formed in the mind of the writer of fictional travel stories or science fiction to describe social and political theoretical concepts. For centuries, islands have represented possibility and have remained openly potential. Inherent in such an imagined place is the idea of fantasy, and for many people involved in creating leisure and amusement parks, popular entertainment centres and funfairs, the island has become a place in which all manner of hauntings, endurances and adventures can take place. The Other Side is a significant project in Morton’s long investigation into the Ur-architecture of temporary and ephemeral forms, and is a major, as well as apt, use of the site at Cockatoo Island.

Working predominantly with large-scale installations, Morton incorporates sculpture, photography, sound and light to create structures that explore the space between illusion and reality and consider our relationship with the built environment. As a child, Morton’s architect father exposed the young artist to images and ideas of modernist design. Morton consequently uses architecture and the urban landscape as a backdrop for the investigation of public and private spaces.

Morton’s sculptures often take the form of scaled-down replicas of existing structures, such as the work Habitat (2003). Here Morton created a model of a Montreal housing project that his father worked on with pioneering Israeli architect Moshe Safdie in the 1960s. Using light and sound to animate the stacked modular units, Morton represents the cycle of a day in the apartment complex over a continuous 28-minute loop, providing the viewer with a glimpse into the everyday lives of the fictional inhabitants.

Sound plays an important part in many of Morton’s sculptures and installations, as seen in Babylonia (2005). The sculpture takes the form of a scaled-down model of Lisca Bianca, a small island off the coast of Sicily. Upon venturing inside the imposing structure the viewer is presented with what appears to be the hallway of a hotel. The miniaturised corridor is empty, lined with doors that do not open or lead anywhere. Hidden speakers produce laughter, howls and screams, hinting at an ominous presence that is distinctly felt yet remains unseen.

Morton studied architecture and urban planning at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology before completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Victoria College, Melbourne. Selected solo exhibitions of his work include ‘The Insides’, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2012); ‘Callum Morton – In Memoriam’, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2011); ‘Grotto’, The Fundament Foundation, Tilburg (2009); and ‘Smokescreen’, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne (2009). He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions, including ‘Australia’, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2013); ‘Melbourne Now’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013–14); and Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art (2010). In 2007, Morton was one of three artists chosen to represent Australia at the 52nd Venice Biennale.


Exhibiting Artwork