Global Survey commission description

Heather & Ivan Morison were commissioned by Vivid to carry out an international research project during 2003. The project took the form of a modern day expedition, the aim of which was to survey previously uncharted lives and to record and broadcast its findings. The artists travelled slowly around the globe guided and informed by the people they meet along the way. These people were the focus of the expedition, their stories and experiences being relayed to a network of participants and recipients. The goal of the survey was to instigate a global sharing of lives, highlighting the extraordinary in the everyday.

The expedition's course was determined by people rather than places, the artists never visiting a place, only a person. During 2003 the artists visited people in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Russia, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand. Although the year long research period is now over the artists will continue their work in new countries with the many contacts they have been recommended. As people are recommended and unexpected subjects are discovered the expedition's course has adapted. Like a pioneering exploration there is no end destination, only points to navigate by and the intention of returning home some time in the distant future. All travel has been carried out using local methods only. The title 'Global Survey' was chosen for its grand sounding intentions, yet in reality being an impossible task for just two people.

Heather & Ivan Morison interact and collaborate with individuals and local communities, often over extended periods of time. Recordings of people talking about their passions are made, with the artists looking for insights into their subject's lives. The edited recordings are then shared locally and globally, to an internet radio station. Other observations, always directly relating to a moment in a person's life, are also broadcast on the online message board, LED display boards and mailed cards. An international network of galleries and art organisations act as broadcast hosts, receiving information from the artists and displaying it and re-broadcasting it to their own audiences. Ivan and Heather also carry out localised broadcasts through the publishing of small inserts into local newspapers, giving talks and presentations, and through collaboration with local radio stations.

Many of the broadcasts made can be found here on this website. Others will be presented in a touring show taking place during 2004. A publication is planned which with document their observations and the messages sent to the LED board. One of the major broadcasts made earlier this year was a live two day broadcast to the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham from Vilnius, Lithuania. For this the artists broadcast live the goings on inside a flower shop in the town centre, whilst having the conversations simultaneously translated. As the day went by the audience got to hear the everyday problems and concerns of the three sisters working in the shop, and also later that day, the translators own views and opinions as she became more and more bored of translating. In Helsinki the artists placed a series of three text inserts into the Helsinki Sanomat, the most popular and serious national newspaper, each insert telling the story of a different lady, all set in Vingos park in Lithuania. Also in Finland Ivan and Heather produced a live ice fishing broadcast to Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. The artists have also travelled to the very north of Russia after being told that they really must see the Siberian Larches, only to find they were all being cut down. For this they produced a printed card detailing their observations that was mailed out to over one thousand recipients. Whilst living in the academic township of Akademgorodok in Siberia the pair wrote a novelette that detailed various peoples lives. Whilst in Mongolia they made a survey of wild flowers, and in China a survey of Chinese trees, using each of these undertakings as reasons and ways for meeting people. During a month long sea voyage from China to New Zealand the pair wrote a complete science fiction novel, their first such attempt. Documentation of many of these various works can be seen on their website at

Participating national galleries and arts organisations are Ikon Gallery Birmingham, Metapod Festival Birmingham, IPS Birmingham, Harris Museum Preston and Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. International galleries and organisations that have hosted Ivan & Heather Morison are IBID Projects Vilnius Lithuania, DEPO Novosibirsk Russia, Centre d'Art Contemporain Geneva Switzerland, ICA Boston USA, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, Helsinki City Art Museum Finland and Gallery Adagio Ashiya Japan.

Global survey was supported by Vivid through the hothaus programme. For further information about Global Survey and the hothaus programme contact Kaye Winwood at Vivid by email on, or visit their website at

Global Survey was also supported by Art Council England, British Council, be Birmingham and the European Regional Development Fund