2019, London, UK         

The Mouse And His Child

Books, rug, scagliola, ceramics, illuminated helium balloon

Commissioned by NOW Gallery

The Mouse and His Child was a temporary installation in the NOW Gallery, a cultural platform for design, art, and fashion on Greenwich Peninsula, an area of south-east London undergoing rapid development. The gallery was transformed into a sculptural and functional civic space, a library for readers of all ages in which they could discover, read, listen to, and discuss various kinds of childhood fiction. This immersive reading room, which housed some three hundred children’s books by authors more commonly known for addressing an adult audience, explored the human experience of fiction.

The starting point for this interactive library space was the curious nuanced experience one has when reading a book written for children as an adult. The installation’s name references the title of Russell Hoban’s 1967 children’s novel that interweaves adult themes of politics and the dangers of reality within typically childlike characters and motifs. It is a dark toy fantasy, about a clockwork mouse and his son, who go on a quest to find a home of their own and become, as the book puts it, ‘self-winding’. As such, when a young person reads the story, their experience of an exciting and fun adventure contrasts with the adult’s awareness of the tale’s cautionary meaning.   
In the centre of the gallery lay a huge handmade rug, illuminated by a light-filled helium balloon that was tied by a cord to a large gherkin-like form that appeared to be fashioned from multicoloured marble. All around were bespoke stools, reading tables, vases, and ornaments made or designed by the artists. The library itself was placed in and around this installation, upending the notion of conventional bookshelves and interacting directly with the sculptural objects.

Just like the books contained within it, the installation’s beautiful aesthetic drew in both adult and children visitors, creating a space of warmth that spoke of childlike things with an adult undercurrent. Inspired by the home that the Mouse, his child, and their friends finally make for themselves at the end of their journey, the artists created a space that ‘assumes a look of wild confidence and reckless bravado’, as Hoban described it. ‘That’s what we wanted the show to be like’, says Ivan Morison. ‘We wanted people to think about how to bring darker truths to a younger generation, how we talk about those things. I hoped they would leave with a thoughtfulness.’ ‘After all’, says Heather Peak, ‘art is important as a way of talking about stuff you don’t want to talk about.’


‘We went to the Morisons’ studio and watched them making this incredible pickle that ended up as the centrepiece of the exhibition. And then we sat down and had the most wonderful lentil dish, dhal, which they prepared for us and which we ate out of the crockery bowls they had made.
It was a moment for us to understand that their sense of materiality, their sense of what tastes good and what looks good, mingles, that what we ate smelt like the pickle, and that all those things had a particularly delicious texture. The whole of their practice came alive there and then in their studio.’

Jemima Burrill, cultural consultant and curator, NOW Gallery
Photographers’ credits       

All’s Well that Ends_ Ivan Morison

Love Me or Leave Me Alone        


Love Me or Leave Me Alone, The Very Public Art of Heather Peak and Ivan Morison presents a journey through the past decade and a half of the artists’ practice, with an emphasis on their pavilions, escape vehicles, and public artworks.  The book can be ordered from the publishers Art/Books
Press contact        

If you can’t find the information you are looking for you can contact the studio of Heather Peak and Ivan Morison here: studio@peakmorison.org