Discovering Annie Morris & Idris Khan - Two World's Entwined

Words by
Annie Morris and Idris Khan

20th February 2023

SPHERE Meets the acclaimed artists Annie Morris and Idris Khan as they show their art together for the first time in ‘Two Worlds Entwined.’ The just launched exhibition explores their practice through the filter of their life together in the historic and intimate setting of Newlands House Gallery in Petworth, West Sussex.

Two World’s Entwined is the UK’s first exhibition to explore the individual practices of artist couple Annie Morris and Idris Khan side by side. The intimate setting of the gallery allows the 60 works on show to convert the space into the artists’ own creative and highly personal realm.

Annie Morris’s is multi-disciplinary practice, in sculpture, drawing, murals and tapestry which draws on both personal experience and the history of art to make work celebrated for its playful, electric nature. Through his work, Idris Khan draws inspiration from the history of art and music as well as key philosophical and theological texts, investigating memory, creativity, and the many layers of life experience. 

Here, Annie & Idris share stories behind their transportive new exhibition, offering, as they describe, "two very different artistic sensibilities and upbringings coming together, questioning and informing the next step, emotionally and formally."

Annie Morris and Idris Khan
Annie Morris and Idris Khan at home together

We wanted to do a show together because.. over the past few years we have seen more and more visual links between both our works. We met in 2007 and we can honestly say that our days are spent entwined in art and domestic bliss! (Ha – mostly). It was only a matter of time that the ideas we both have speak to each other. Through colour and line and we wanted to share that journey with the visitors in this exhibition. 

Idris Khan
Break down a wall, and there will be love, 2022, by Idris Khan

The process of curating our works into one exhibition has been… an exciting and thought provoking experience. Maya Binkin the curator of the exhibition wanted to show the depth of both our works, so it’s partly a historical exhibition with works dating back to 2004 right up to the present. From photography that Idris made at his time at the Royal College of Art to brand new paintings, sculptures, watercolours and tapestries. We love the fact the gallery is a former beautiful Georgian house, so the rooms are domestic in scale and more intimate. We literally pulled work off the walls of our home to display them here! So one could argue that it feels like you are walking into our house. In the first room there is a beautiful portrait of Annie made from over 100 photographs superimposed on top of each other that was made an engagement gift for her. 

Annie Morris
Stack 8, Manganese Violet, 2022, by Annie Morris

New works on show include… a set of 21 watercolours based on the colours of the four seasons. A series of works that Idris created when moving to Petworth to escape London during the covid pandemic lockdown.

Having never lived in the English countryside, and having more time to spend looking closer at the everyday colours and emotions that change throughout the seasons inspired this body of work. Annie is showing a new suite of oil stick paintings on paper that surround two new embroidered armchairs that Annie has never made or exhibited before. 

idris Khan
My mother, 2019, jesmonite, pigment, fixings, by Idris Khan, courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro

The story we want to tell of our life together is.. two very different artistic sensibilities and upbringings coming together, questioning and informing the next step, emotionally and formally. Creating a studio for us to work in West Sussex during covid brought a lot of change into both our works. Idris’s departure into colour and Annie’s ambitious tapestry taken from drawings made in Sussex has made showing these works here poignant. 

Pink Moon by Annie Morris
Pink Moon, 2021, thread on linen by Annie Morris

Telling the story of our lives together showed us new spaces and opportunities to create new work… this show has new paintings, sculpture and we wanted to create distinctive installations in the smaller upstairs rooms that haven’t been shown before. 

Our favourite part of the exhibition is The Four Seasons room it is a beautiful space full of colour and it is where our work meets. We also love the new oils stick and armchair room as it feels like the drawings are jumping off the wall onto the furniture.

One of the most thoughtful rooms is in which Idris’s displays a sculpture called ‘My mother’ which is a work based on all the photographs he could find of his mother after she passed away. Shown in the same room and a work based on his father’s Quran. 

Idris Khan
Absorbing light, 2017, bronze, by Idris Khan courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro

Our guiltiest pleasure is… buying an unhealthy amount of plates in antique markets. Also we often move furniture around in our house and then most often move it all back! 

The one thing we’ve always wanted to do is live in Jaipur, India. We love India! 

The next project on our minds is…a Solo Show for Annie in NYC at Timothy Taylor’s new space. Idris is opening his first American Museum 20 year Survey show in April 2024. To be announced soon! 

Annie Morris
Figure with Cadmium Red, 2021, oil stick and acrylic on paper by Annie Morris