Objects Of Desire

My Objects of Desire: Poet and artist Julie Morrissy on her most prized possessions

Julie Morrissy is a poet, artist, and academic. Her artwork is currently showing in the ‘Is this a poem?’ group exhibition at the Museum of Literature Ireland. She talks books, art and her love of tennis

Julie Morrissy photographed in her home for Irish Tatler by Melanie Mullan

When it comes to my style, I mostly think in outfits. I plan how to put together different pieces and colours. When I’m going on trips I pack outfits for each day, down to the small details. Even during lockdown, I planned what I would wear to pick up my bread order.

My interiors style is a little muddled because I am a long-term renter and I move a lot, so I don’t always get to decide exactly what is in my home. My best interior accomplishment is my writing desk. I put off buying it until I had more money and then I waited even longer to find the right one. It has plenty of space to spread out books and notebooks. I have a shelf with special items right in front of me that I can see when I am working – a small square embroidery with my late mom’s name by Domino Whisker, a postcard by artist Moki Cherry and another with lines from Heaney, and a rock my partner found on a beach in Derry.

Morrisy’s biggest interior design accomplishment she says is her writing desk.

The last thing I bought and loved was Boy Brow and Ultralip products by Glossier. I am into them at the moment. I really like their Milky Jelly cleanser.

On my wishlist is a Max Mara wool camel coat – in my dream world.

I have two books I read last year that I think are the best. The Islands by Dionne Irving and Impermanent Blackness by Korey Garibaldi. Dionne’s book is a collection of short stories about the Jamaican diaspora, and Korey’s book is about pre-1960s interracial literary culture. Both are excellent reads.

One of Morrisy’s favourite books of 2023, The Islands by Dionne Irving

I’m currently reading an excellent manuscript by Darina Sikmashvili. Darina is a Ukrainian-American writer I met at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference in deep Tennessee last summer. Part of the fun of being a writer is reading other writers’ works in progress. Her novel is about three generations of Ukrainian women. I am still thinking about the characters.

Impermanent Blackness by Korey Garibaldi

The place I love returning to is the Betsy Hotel in Miami. I go there when I can to write. The beach is very productive for me.

Betsy Hotel

The place I really want to visit is Bangkok. I would love to go to the Bangkok Art Biennale in 2024. I went to the Venice Biennale for the first time last year and it was fantastic.

New to me is eating a Brazil nut every day. Apparently it’s good for your brain, heart and immune system.

The best gift I’ve ever received was a Wimbledon towel that my mom gave me as a reward once for beating her at tennis. I didn’t beat her very often so it was a very satisfying gift.

In my pantry, there are always tins of tuna. I’m not a diligent grocery shopper, but if I have tuna I can always make something that vaguely resembles a meal.

My favourite place to shop is around Soho and the Bowery in New York City. I like the mix of the bigger shops and small boutiques, nice places to eat lunch or get a coffee, and good bookshops.

I think bookshops are beautiful retail spaces. I really like museum and gallery bookshops, and I love the Library Project in Temple Bar. McNally Jackson on Prince Street in New York City has been one of my favourite bookshops for years.

My indulgence is travel, sunshine and long hang-outs with friends.

I couldn’t live without tennis. I play three or four times a week, I watch tennis most days and listen to tennis podcasts too. I write about tennis sometimes – in 2022 I wrote an essay for the Irish Times about Serena Williams retiring from tennis, and last year I wrote a short piece about Naomi Osaka for the Being Horizontal exhibition at Project Arts Centre, Dublin.

I bookmark tons of websites when I am researching a project, so lately I’ve bookmarked lots of articles about women activists in the revolutionary period for my book Radical! Women and the Irish Revolution which I made as poet-in-residence at the National Library of Ireland. We have been working on a full Irish translation of the book, so I have also bookmarked foclóir.ie.

Details on Morrisy’s writing desk including her book Radical! Women and the Irish Revolution which she made as poet-in-residence at the National Library of Ireland.

I collect books signed by people I know. They are very special to me and I have a few shelves designated for those books.

I could never part with my Villeroy and Boch mug that I’m weirdly attached to. My dad got it for me as a gift when I graduated from Law (nearly 20 years ago!). I even bring it with me when I’m living in other places.

Morrisy’s Villeroy and Boch mug

I don’t know if I bring home many souvenirs. One thing I do when I go on trips is send my friend Peter Tomka a postcard from the galleries I visit.

My home is very peaceful and comfortable, but it’s right in the city. The house is part of one of the first social housing projects built by the Free State, so it is very historic. I like having the calm at home to write and work, but I also really like being within walking distance of town.

To de-stress, I cook. I need to get up from my desk and do something productive at the end of the day.

Morrisy’s cookbooks

The last item I added to my wardrobe was a really fun cardigan by House of Sunny. I was shopping with my friend in London and she encouraged me to buy it. It is orange and has a knitted sunset pattern and palm trees. Pretty ridiculous, especially for this time of year. I think it is channelling where I want to be in 2024.

Julie Morrissy in her House of Sunny cardigan

The artist I admire is Puerto Rican experimental dance artist Nibia Pastrana Santiago. I also really like British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey and Franco-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira. Sedira’s work in the French Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale was my favourite (after Niamh O’Malley’s exhibition in the Irish Pavilion, of course).

Art work in Morrisy’s home

The designer I admire is Simone Rocha. I love the shape and texture of her clothes.

The designer who changed my thinking is Venus Williams. She has a line of tennis clothes/athletic wear which she wears when playing. I love the colours. I have always been inspired by what she wears on court, from her teenage years in the 1990s right up to now in her mid-40s.

Julie's love for tennis and all things Williams sisters is seen throughout her home

The place I go to for inspiration is outside. I go for walks and talk to myself. I do most of my best thinking when I’m in motion.

The building I love is La Pyramide in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. It is a concrete pyramid with balconies, built in the 1970s. My friends took us to see it last year, and there was a new mural being painted on the side of the building while we were there. It is very striking and iconic.

My favourite view is from the tops of the wooden steps at Townline Road Beach at Lake Michigan. The entrance is from a little residential cul de sac. It’s very friendly – people leave their shoes and phones at the top of the steps, and as you walk down under the trees, the sand and the lake appear.

I’ve recently rediscovered Corn Flakes – A true breakfast classic.

Is this a poem? Adventures On the Edge of an Artform runs until July 2024. moli.ie