These amazing brick sculptures by Michael Morgan of Brickworks, in Philadelphia, were created for a house north of Omaha, Neb. The homeowners commissioned Morgan to build the “silo,” first, which houses a spiral staircase leading to a guesthouse in the renovated barn and on to an observation deck. About five years later, he was asked by the same family to create the bay on the front of their new house, what he has titled "Memory Wall."
Silo “is meant to look as if it’s growing from the ground,” Morgan says. “That’s something I think about a lot when I work with brick, that it’s coming from the earth.”
Morgan, who has a degree in ceramics from Wolverhampton Polytechnic in England, has been a gardener for many years and likes to mix the two arts. He became interested in ceramic sculpture, he says, when as a student he wandered in industrial areas around old, disused brick factories that had reverted to a more natural state. “Seeing the brick crumbling back into the earth helped me make the connection between the two natural elements,” he wrote in Landscape Architecture magazine in 2005.
About 60% of Morgan’s locally bought, factory-made brick (in Nebraska he used Endicott Clay Products; in Pennsylvania, McAvoy Brick)is “green,” its clay-like state before firing. He wets, hits with branches, steps on, and otherwise manipulates the bricks with his hands. After they are somewhat dry, he cuts and tears into them with a spackling knife. “They get a kind of shiny surface when they’re fired and emphasize the part that I altered by hitting it,” he says. On larger projects he creates the design then etches in a number on each brick before firing. Morgan has an assistant and on his residential projects he works closely with architects and general contractors (who take care of the building inspectors).
—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.