top of page

Renowned artist Morag Myerscough transforms spaces into places with colorful, community-centric installations.

A conversation with designer-artist Morag Myerscough whose colorful odyssey from London to Coachella redefines public spaces and belonging.

artist Morag Myerscough with dog standing in front of colorful installation Let Us Shine

Internationally acclaimed artist Morag Myerscough with Elvis in front of installation at 2023 Bristol Light Festival.

Morag Myerscough is exactly where she wants to be. After 30 years of running her own studio, she is globally recognized for her large, colorful, temporary community spaces and collaborative community engagement. Despite the time it took for the world to catch up, she was crystal clear on her direction early on: her graduate thesis at Central Saint Martins was titled ‘Interaction Between Fine Art and Design’.

In the last year, she has completed five projects in five different cities around the world. Three of them center around belonging, a theme that comes up in a lot of Myerscough’s projects: Love Letters at La Courneuve for the 2024 Paris Olympics, State of Becoming at Victoria Yard in North Carolina, and (Leave) Space for Space at the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam. For each project, Myerscough held in-person workshops with local communities to translate their feelings about the area and each other into the work and to develop ideas that reflect the identity of the users, giving them ownership in the project while sharing their voices with the world. Her other two projects were for major events: Coachella music festival and the Uefa Cup in Munich. The former was her largest installation to date and the latter, the You Are Everything Stadium of Dreams, celebrated football and culture through a program of football-inspired theater, readings, concerts, poetry slams, and talks.

Myerscough’s thoughtfully conceived and beautifully crafted public-facing installations spark joy and foster belonging through shared experiences taking place within them. Around the world she is transforming spaces into places: “As I see it a space is waiting for something to happen and a place is where it is happening,” says Myerscough who uses her work to create community and build identity. 

Mural installation by Morag Myerscough in rainbow colors "A State of Becoming"

“A State of Becoming” installation at Charlotte SHOUT! 2024.

How did you get into immersive, large-scale projects and installations, and what do you like about them?

I have always felt on the periphery, I never quite felt I fitted in with what was going on around me. Being a woman running her own company was quite a lonely place at that time. So I made my own space between art and design. I had designed many exhibitions but I felt that I wanted to express my own thoughts instead of solving problems for others. I was finally given the opportunity to build my first structure in 2012 (the Movement Cafe in Greenwich for developer Cathedral). At the same time, I was designing the permanent exhibition for the new Design Museum in London. That was the turning point for me and I have not looked back.

“A State of Becoming” installation at Charlotte SHOUT! 2024.

Why is color important to you and how do you make your color choices?

My mother was a textile artist and I have been surrounded by colored fabrics and threads since I was a very small child. I listened to my mother talk about the difference between colors: for example, how colored vegetable dyes differ from chemical dyes. However, I lived in Holloway, a very gray part of London, and always loved how magical it was when the funfair came to our area in the holidays. I loved how the color, lights, and sounds made everything feel so exciting. As a child and a teenager, I also loved embroidery and making things with fabric. Being surrounded by color feels natural to me, and I like sharing its power with people.

I have developed a set of colors that I use often, adding different colors to the core palette. Recently I moved to a new house with a big garden and my palette is changing. I have introduced some purples, which I liked as a child but not [used] for many years. But I observed how purple and green in nature are incredible. I use neon colors as I love how they make everything hyper-real and mess with how you see the other colors. Working outside, neon is amazing as it changes with the light. 

Why are words important to you and how do you make your word choices? 

Words are very powerful and, when used well, can change people’s ideas or give a message of joy and love, depending on the situation. When I work with community groups I will often collaborate with a local poet to create a workshop for people to draw out their thoughts, stories, and conversations. We then gather up all the phrases, both written and spoken. I work through them to express the thoughts of the groups involved on the installations and the poet will write a collective poem.

What have you learned about creating and maintaining a sense of belonging through design?

The subject of belonging is very personal to my experiences of growing up and existing in this world. I wanted to find out what it meant to others and to see if together we can create a sense of belonging.

Installation at Coachella 2024.

How important is community and connection today?

I have lived in London all my life and I understand how community works in London, but it is different everywhere, and very specific to the place and people. Community and connection changes at different stages in a person’s life. When I work on projects I do not have any preconceptions about the community I am working with: I listen to the people’s stories. They often speak about changes in their communities over time and what their aspirations and dreams are for the future. It has been very rewarding to hear people share their thoughts and see how they enjoy telling their stories. The workshops for (Leave) Space for Space enabled different communities to come together and discuss the positive and negative qualities about how their neighborhood was changing in a way they have not had a chance to do before, and to talk about ways they could come together and shape it positively.

You have worked all over the world exploring similar themes in different places. What similarities have you observed about what positively influences people’s sense of belonging?

People have a great yearning to connect and be part of something. This can be something existing or a new way of coming together with shared values and aspirations.

As we live more complex and potentially more isolated lives, it is important that people find new ways of connecting and caring for each other, showing kindness, and trusting the people around us. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?

For 30 years I was on a mission and I got there at a time when I can still enjoy it. I am doing exactly what I set out to do. It took me a long time but I am very glad the world has changed and there is more space for what I do. I don’t like specific labels. I would prefer not to have a title like ‘designer’ because I think it can be too restricting and comes with lots of conditioned, controlled thoughts. I use the word ‘artist’ as well as it can be a more freeing title. I think it is great that people can be as many things as they want to be and not be defined by the education they have chosen.

What are you working on next? 

I am working on a set of colors based on a year of flowers in my garden; a bus station in Leeds, UK; and a range of new jewelry will be coming out with Tatty Devine very soon.

Photographs by Luke Morgan, Gareth Gardner, C Wilson, Lance Gerber, Morag Myerscough, courtesy Morag Myerscough.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page