In July 2009, a remarkable, large-scale pavilion structure was erected through a community barn-raising in Victoria Park, Bristol. The Black Cloud was designed by artists Heather and Ivan Morison in association with architect Sash Reading. The structure acted as part-performance venue and part-host for events organised by the artists (such as a debate on sustainable futures and a night-time puppet-theatre performance).

July – November 2009

The project began when Heather and Ivan Morison undertook an Arts & Ecology residency in 2007 jointly managed with the RSA’s Art & Ecology programme. The Black Cloud was designed in readiness for a future boiling Bristol, baked dry by a relentless burning sun. The structure was informed by vernacular architecture built to withstand extreme environmental conditions and the Yakisugi treatment of the timbers creates a scorched, protective shield incorporating a roof design based on the Shabono shelters of Venezuela, which are characterised by an exposed communal zone in the centre with sheltered living space around the periphery. The Black Cloud also gathered around it a growing temporary community and was open for park users, local residents, groups and organisations to carry out their own events for free.

Heather and Ivan Morison, The Black Cloud, Bristol, 2009 Photo: Wig Worland

Situations and the artists also organised a variety of events in the shelter including Cloud Jam, an afternoon of music from local bands such as Lonely Tourist and The Welcome Committee, How To Prosper In The Coming Bad Years, a lively discussion exploring our future in the face of dramatic climate and economic change, and finally Black Dog Times, which marked the departure of The Black Cloud and was a carnivalesque wintry performance produced by Heather and Ivan Morison in collaboration with Full Beam Visual Theatre.

About the artists
STUDIO MORISON founders Heather Peak and Ivan Morison have worked together as an artist duo, under the name Heather and Ivan Morison, since 2003, establishing an ambitious collaborative practice that transcends the divisions between art, architecture and theatre. STUDIO MORISON facilitates their practice and the projects that flow from it.

Further Information

The Black Cloud was made possible by the enthusiasm and support of Bristol City Council. We would also like to acknowledge the generous support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the RSA Arts and Ecology programme, the University of the West of England, Bristol and Spike Island. We would also like to thank all our volunteers without whom the production and raising of The Black Cloud would not have been possible.

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