Estonian inspiration at the Verbal

Artist Sue Morris says the Verbal Arts Centre is the "ideal place" to show her current exhibition, "Out of Truth", because of the Centre's focus on the written and spoken word.

Picture for blog story Estonian inspiration at the Verbal

A new exhibition by a London-born artist now living in Derry which was inspired by a residency at a print museum in Estonia, has opened at the Verbal Arts Centre.

Sue Morris’ installation entitled ‘Out of Truth’, is the result of work carried out during an artist’s residency at the Trükimuuseum (Print Museum) Tartu, Estonia.

The Trükimuuseum is one of the few museums in Europe dedicated to letterpress, an old printing technique using hot metal typesetting.

The residency enabled Morris to explore both letterpress technology and the complex role of language in Estonia, that has experienced several occupations by neighbouring countries.

The exhibition features A5 text pieces typeset in Estonian, Russian and English, languages all used in Estonia, which regained its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Many of the prints are on ephemeral paper found in the museum, previously a Soviet factory. During the residency, Morris used a typewriter from the museum’s collection, previously owned by the esteemed Estonian poet, linguist and cultural commentator, Jaan Kaplinski.

Midway through the residency the script, which was typed onto a continuous roll of paper, went missing and became ‘The Lost Project’ which has been reconstructed in the exhibition.

The exhibition also features a series of photographs of the museum’s interior, much of which remains untouched since its former days as a factory.

Explaining how “Out of Truth” came to be showing in the Verbal Arts Centre, Morris said: “It is very much about language, identity and borders. When I came back from Estonia, I thought where on earth am I going to show this, where it would fit in?

“We come in here quite a lot and I thought this would be absolutely the ideal place because of its focus on the written and spoken word. I am absolutely delighted to put it here because the Verbal Arts Centre is such a fitting place for the themes of the exhibition.

“For me it has to be somewhere that it makes sense. Because there is a lot of poetry going on here and the Reading Rooms, it is about language and, this work is essentially about language.”

The framed text pieces form sentences including, “Everything is connected”; “This is where we are now”; “Words link everything, everyone”; and “Sing”.

Morris explained: “It is just about the complexity of everything. I am not really trying to say one thing or another. The text is coming and going, it is fading and sometimes overprinted. Sometimes you can’t read it, sometimes the Russian is coming in more strongly, sometimes the Estonian, playing visually with some of the words.

“Language is quite contentious in Estonia because it represents its history of intrusion and colonisation; the language has often been taken away.”

According to Morris, language is “tied up with wealth and power”, but she is not offering any conclusions. “I just hope people will come in and reflect on it and respond in their own way to it.”

Welcoming ‘Out of Truth’ to the Verbal exhibition space, James Kerr, Chief Executive of the Verbal Arts Centre, said: “Sue's work reflects the rich, creative opportunities made possible by combining the visual and language arts. This is a very engaging exhibition which will give viewers much to consider.”

Morris is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London and was based for 20 years in Sligo where she practised from the Model Studios. She moved to Derry last October with her partner, Greg McLaughlin, who is from the city and a lecturer in Journalism and Media Studies at Ulster University’s Coleraine campus.

Morris is also looking forward to her next summer residency in Achill Island, Co Mayo at Heinrich Boll Cottage - former home of the German novelist and winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature, who visited Achill regularly during the 1950s and ‘60s.

But, she has an even more important date in her diary next month – she and Greg are getting married in the Guildhall on July 17th.

‘Out of Truth’ runs at the Verbal Arts Centre from June 1st - July 1st 2015. Opening times are Monday - Thursday, 9am-5.30pm and Friday, 9am-4pm. Admission is free.
For further information, visit


Further information is available from the Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane & Mall Wall, Bishop Street Within, Derry~Londonderry, Tel. 02871 266946.

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