Sticking with the Sticky Mess

Artist El Morgan is working with Radar on a significant new commission looking at the material and metaphorical links between human and nonhuman production, what it means to live a productive life in the face of disability, and how we produce and reproduce familial relationships of care.

2 hand-drawn microfauna in bright colours with handwritten text descriptions by their side

(Photo credit: El Morgan)

Through a partnership with Dr Pandora Syperek, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow based at Loughborough London and a research fellow at V&A East, Morgan is researching historical animal products housed in the V&A’s collections. These animal parts – often excretions, glues and dyes – were once displayed to the public, but many have now disappeared from view, with remainders sometimes used as a means of repair in conservation departments. Uninvited creatures, such as carpet beetle larvae, also find their homes in 19th century museums, gradually contributing to the decay and disrepair of the artefacts held in the storage collections of such institutions. Research into these animal products and residues will be held alongside personal narratives and lived experience of caring and disability.  

Morgan is interested in these sticky animal residues (mud daubing wasps, spider silk and caddis fly larvae nets) as a way of thinking about art making, productivity and laziness, and cross-species relations of care, repair and decay.  

Over the coming months, keep an eye on Radar’s social media and website for updates on El’s ongoing research.  

“We should be finding ways to stick around with the sticky mess that we’re in and that we are”. 

Timothy Morton, Ecology without Nature (2007) 

“Have you had a productive day?” 

Artist’s mother  


El Morgan

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