Studio Myerscough has become one of the UK’s most prolific studios with Morag Myerscough at the helm of a very small team, one of which includes her dog, Lemmy.
My father was a musician and my mother a textile artist and so our house was full of music and making. I really took to making clothes and embroidery when I was about 9 but I did not want to follow my mum as a textile artist I wanted to do something that was different, something of my own. I have always loved colour and not working just in 2D. We were introduced to music, colour, food, discussion, commitment, questioning, looking & seeing and always being slightly on the outside. My final show at the RCA was everything to do with the Benjamin Britton opera ‘The Turn of the Screw’ the sets how to interpret the libretto the posters etc. But this was not encouraged at the end of my time at the Royal College and I was told I would not get a job, and at that time it worried me that I was doing something wrong. So I felt pressured to take the route of a more conventional graphic designer. But sadly by 2000 I was bored and I met Luke Morgan who had always kept to his psychobilly routes and it made me think I needed to go back to expressing myself more rather than serving others. That is when the true Morag started coming out. ‘Her House’ was established using my house as a gallery and making products and showing at Designers Block.
Old trains conversions into and café in Deptford for a client I had worked for for many years who trusted me. This was in 2008 and we had been making our products for quite a few years by then and this was the perfect project to use all the things we had been developing over the years. In 2010 onwards I had been designing the summer shows at LCC using shipping containers in the street. So when in 2012 the same client as the train Cathedral Group asked me to design a café on a sunken building site in a very short period of time I was not phased in anyway just excited. I have been discussing a permanent poetry project for the same site with the poet Lemn Sissay and we had been discussing how the restrictions of the amount of words in tweets were interesting. I met the client and he told me I needed to get him the design for the café by the following day as we had so little time before the Olympics. Luke and I had been looking at the structure but nothing was quite working. In a mild panic I went straight to my studio to start and I thought I would read Lemn’s tweets and the first one I read was the one. Immediately I got to working into the early house making a physical model. Went to bed got up in the morning and just thought yes this is it. Sent the model over to the client and immediately they said yes and then we got into production. Nobody can predict the response of projects and I really think the Movement was the right project for us at the right time, but thinking about it, it was 10 years of hard work to get to that point and also people had changed attitudes and more open to the type of work we were doing in public places.
Real breakthrough moments are hard to define, I have been working a long time and I think I am a bit of a slow burner. Also the landscape has changed and now feels much better to me than the past. Minds of people are more open now and less controlling and less about conforming. I think it is important to be very aware of how your work is going and re-evaluate what you are doing and how stimulated you are doing it. When you do work that has a depth to it I think people can tell. Studio Myerscough did grow until 2000 when I realized that my heart was not in running a studio with lots of people working for me. I had so many ideas inside me and I wanted to make them happen. It took me a few years but finally I came to the conclusion that at least for a while I did not want to employ anybody. So most of the time it is just me and my dog Lemmy. Then depending on the project other collaborators get involved like Luke Morgan. That is why we set up Supergroup London to have a much more flexible way of working and it ensure we collaborate with the best people for each individual projects.
Artistic movements or “isms” are not something I see myself being alligned to. I mean I’ve grown up through different periods and I’m aware of them, you know in the 80’s I absolutely loved Memphis. I even went to work for Michele de Lucchi who was one of the Memphis group, but I think I fit a little bit somewhere else. A bit outside — where I’m not trying, or don’t feel the need to be necessarily connected to something – you know it’s like a big melting pot, a big mélange… hopefully there’s a new place that will open up. I think it’s interesting with Assemble winning the Turner prize and the way they speak about their practice… there is this other area of where the whole multiple ways of working is really coming into its own. I think it’s broken down traditional views of the different disciplines, which for me is very exciting. I knew when I was at college that I never really fitted in. I was designing opera sets at the Royal College and everyone else was designing posters and stuff like that. So I sort of new then, and the tutors were worried about me wondering, ‘well what’s going to happen to her?’ What was great was I had, at that time, something to respond against, you know? Which sent me on my way, even though I didn’t really know what my way was, if that makes sense?
Giving lectures and talks has essentially allowed me to crystallise how I look at my work. I’ve been doing them for five years now. Maybe the first one was the Typo London — which Adrian Shaughnessy put me forward for. I feel that sometimes people can take your work on face value and not really understand everything about it, so if you don’t talk about it or explain what you’re trying to achieve, then that’s your own problem. So I like being asked to do talks because it gives me a place to try and explain what I’m trying to do with my work and that then, maybe, it can come across in a different way. I think it’s quite nice to be able to have this platform. And because I don’t teach it’s become important; it’s a way that I can give back whilst still carrying on doing my work. People seem to want to hear me speak about my work and I do get asked quite a lot. I did a talk in Liverpool last week at the University and I did a colour talk the week before that up in Scotland, so if I can do that, and if it’s in any way useful to young people starting out or other people at different points in their careers, then it’s a worthwhile thing to do.