Derek Morris Sculptor
Background: Derek Morris was born in Birmingham in 1940 into a family of creative people. His mother was an embroideress and weaver and his sister is a silversmith and jeweller. His father was a draughtsman, pattern maker, modeller and sculptor, and had his studio at home, so Morris mixed his first bowl of plaster at the age of six.. He was the first boy from his grammar school to study fine art at university.
Education: He studied at Newcastle University from 1958 until 1963, the final year as a Hatton Scholar. Tutors on the course included Kenneth Rowntree, Quentin Bell, Richard Hamilton and Victor Pasmore He eventually graduated with a first class honours Degree. In 1963 he studied at Chelsea School of Art under Lawrence Gowing and George Fullard, teaching part-time at Ealing College to support his studies. In 1965 he returned to Newcastle to become a studio demonstrator in the sculpture school for two years.
Teaching career: From 1967 until 1971 Morris taught in various art schools including Norwich School of Art. When appointed to a full time post there, he was instrumental in helping to achieve degree-level status for the sculpture school, becoming course leader in 1971. Responsible for developing the course, he promoted the principle that sculptural ideas can only become manifest through making; an extensive knowledge of materials and process was deemed paramount. The course became a first choice destination for students in the 1980s. Owing to his intense involvement with the School, this period is marked by relative inactivity in his practice. In the mid-1980s he took sabbatical leave to study ceramics for inclusion in the course, and this experience kick-started his reengagement in sculptural concerns that has remained constant ever since.
Career after teaching: In 1990 he retired from Norwich School of Art in order to concentrate full-time on his studio practice. He was also appointed to the visual arts selection panel of the King of Hearts Gallery in Norwich, a lively privately-funded arts centre, and stayed with them for ten years. During this period He was alsoExternal Assessor for sculpture at Newcastle University, Manchester University and Kingston University.
In 1996 Morris became a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, and was its President from 1998-2004. During his five and a half years in post, he changed the name of the Society; increased membership from 200 to 500; revised the constitution; inaugurated a long-term plan for regeneration; and repaired the Society’s fine headquarters in London.
He is presently involved with the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society as events co-ordinator and is also a Trustee of Sculpture for Norwich which is dedicated to the commissioning of significant works of public art in the City. He continues to live and work in Norwich.