Gawain Morrison is a Creative Producer and Director for Media, Events and Technology, from Belfast with 25 years of experience in the creative industry.
He has worked within the likes of TV and film production, music videos, record labels and clothing companies, bringing a wide range of experience and knowledge into the creative sector.
Gawain is the Creative Lead for this year’s Culture Night concept, The Ogham Grove, a monumental and immersive installation based around the Ogham characters which developed a secret language created by Druids.
The Ogham Grove runs from Friday September 17th 2021 to Sunday 19th September at Writer’s Square, Belfast.
How did you get started in the industry?
I started out as a club promoter running a club night, Evolution, at a club called Vicos in the late 90s. We had DJs from all around the world come and play, and the local DJs used to wreck the place – some great nights there.
Over the years I’ve worked across T-Shirt Design, Music Production, Events Promotion, film and music video production, software, VR & AR, art installations and a few other bits and bobs.
What genre / style do you create in?
Depends on the concept & project I’ve been working on as some have been for film, some for people to interact with at festivals, some have been personal creations.
I just enjoy the different ways you can take an idea to reality, whether it’s a personal project or something that I can learn from others to complete.
What would you be best known for?
Depends on the timeframe we’re talking about – In the 1990s, it would have been club nights with Evolution. In the 2000s it would have been the t-shirt company T-ART, as well as music video & short film productions. In the 2010s it would have been with Sensum & doing future-media projects with Red Bull Media House or bio-immersive events & installations
Now, I am working with Culture Night Belfast on this wonderful site-specific multi-sensory experience & installation.
What would you consider your biggest achievement?
I reckon that my biggest creative achievement was to produce the world-first emotional-response horror film, Unsound. It was part of a project called Biosuite, where we used the emotions of the audience by recording audience biometrics from finger straps to create a unique cinematic viewing for every experience.
The audio all reacted to how people were feeling, we had a subsonic frequency come out of the speakers at one point if people didn’t seem to be scared enough, and we had different scenes & endings that would play depending on how people were feeling.
We held the world premiere at SXSW, in Austin, Texas, and had New Scientist & Wired turn up to do pieces on it as a world first. We then followed that with a series of special viewings at the Sonic Arts Research Centre as part of the Belfast Film Festival.
What would you consider to be the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your industry?
Nothing is a failure. Nothing is wasted. Everything is part of the journey. Don’t drift too far from your gut telling you that you should stop and do something else. You’ll always find a way to make it work.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Being responsible for people’s salaries, livelihoods and futures is always the biggest challenge. An idea and a concept can be very personal. Working with others is always very fulfilling. Being responsible for people having a take-home salary, especially if you need to keep finding more and more money to keep things going, is always a challenge – it’s the same for any producer, but it never gets any easier and it’s always the thing that keeps you awake at night.
If it’s just for yourself, then it’s an awful lot easier, but sometimes a project just needs a lot of humans to achieve it – but to be honest, those ones usually bring the greatest joy and memories.
Tell us a little about your personal life, are you married, kids, hobbies etc?
I have three sons, one of which, Dylan, is working with me for the Ogham Grove project. They’ve all got strong creative streaks and I love learning from them and seeing how they approach their art.
My partner makes extraordinary jewellery that you can find at www.fireandfae.com.
Tell us about your most recent work?
Currently, I am the Creative Lead for The Ogham Grove for this year’s Culture Night Belfast. This year, Susan Picken and the team have taken a bold move to approach the festival in a different way and it’s a privilege to be involved with their vision.
The Ogham Grove concept is to be aware of our place within our environment; the way the sun and the moon are central to the way our environment ebbs and flows, and our place within it.
This was the way that our pagan and ancestral societies lived on this island and across the world, and it’s the sustainable and respectful way for us to live in today’s world. There is a lot of awareness of the headlines and things we should do to make a difference, but in all honesty we rarely have the time to consider it, much less do anything about it.
What we hope will happen with this experience in Writers Square, and the wider Cathedral Quarter, is that people will take a moment to interact with the experience. We also hope that people will take a moment to contemplate their environment, city or rural, and what it means to them and what they’d like that environment to be like for themselves, their families and future generations.
We want people to look up at the moon, the sun and the stars and reflect – without them our Earth might even not be here, and it certainly wouldn’t have life on it. There is a direct connection between the sky above us, the world around us, and the way that we as humans want to live and that by recognising this at a personal level you have the ability to do something about it – for yourself, for the people around you, and for the future generations that will come behind us.
What would you like us to tell people about?
The world of Ogham is truly fascinating and has something for all – whether it’s about Irish history, how Celts were one of the enlightened civilisations of our planet, how poetry, music and arts were central to their sense of well-being and power, how druids and pagan societies understood art, science, astronomy, nature, food, language and mathematics, and these were a central part of their culture, through to how the Roman Empire and Christianity strangled and controlled these harmonies & social empowerment, which meant that Ogham became a secret language, there is something for everyone in this beautiful history – and something for everyone to take in today and how we should live today. I hope that everyone finds that something in this experience.
What’s the funniest experience you’ve had in your business?
I was doing a tandem skydive for a project with Red Bull Media House with one of my friends. I was filming from the ground and looking up into the sky to try and see where the plane was so I could see my friend jumping and film it.
And then I heard it – a scream from 10000 feet up that anyone in the middle of Ireland could hear, as he fell from the sky. We were trying not to laugh out loud as we filmed him falling, but failed miserably.
What would your advice be to young people hoping to pursue the same industry?
Just give it a go. Whatever it is. Once you open the door to trying to bring a concept to reality, whether it’s a personal creation or something with a bunch of folks, you learn things; some things work, some things don’t and you realise that you can do it. From there on you just need to stay open to what comes at you. Don’t give up if it doesn’t pan out as you expected – that’s not failure. That’s just a different perspective once you’ve learnt some stuff. Don’t forget that it’s a privilege to make a living doing something that you love – not too many folks get to do it.
Anything else you want to tell people about yourself or your work?
I love being creative, and I love people being creative. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s music or fashion, art or film. I love the craft and the tools that allow you to create because someone has had to work out the science behind it, come up with ways to express it, and then we all stand on the shoulders of those people. To me the understanding of the tools, history and processes are as interesting as the things that people make.
Who do you look up to and why?
I’m not sure I have a single person – I just admire anyone who gets into a creative industry, whether it’s to make something, to teach something, or to create tools for it.
Everyone involved has a passion to make it happen, and that should be appreciated.
For more information about CNB21 Presents The Ogham Grove go to culturenightbelfast.com.