Collection

Billyput
Callum Morton

2003

Callum Morton
b.
1964
Title:
Billyput
Production date:
2003
Accession No:
2005/3
Measurements:
1040 x 440mm
Media:
mdf board, enamel paint, soundtrack

Collection Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth. Purchased with funds donated by the TSB Community Trust to the Govett-Brewster Foundation, 2005.

Billyput is the artwork many Gallery visitors fondly remember as “that little green door under the stairs”. In this work the child-size green door installed beneath the main stairs in the Gallery does not open, yet mysterious noises are heard from beyond the door. Set on the staircase that constitutes Billy Apple's Alterations: the given as an art political statement (1980), Morton’s ‘alteration’ is an overt reference to Apple’s, the former only temporary, while the latter a ‘permanently displayed’ work of the Gallery’s collection. Billyput belongs to an ongoing series of works by Morton that remodel architectural features from famous buildings or films. The title plays with Billy Apple's name and the kingdom of Lilliput from Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels.

The model of door that Callum Morton has used is a ubiquitous 1970s design. Similarly, the shade of green is produced from period colour charts, and seems alarmingly bright. The soundtrack coming from behind the door is of a family cleaning. According to Morton, Apple’s Alterations weren’t only enacted under conceptual art premises in relation to international style architecture, but were also a sign of general pathology of cleanliness. While Morton acknowledges that Apple was introducing “good architecture’’ to a regional setting, his abiding theory is that Apple was tidying up the Gallery in the pragmatic sense of the word.

Billyput was commissioned for the international touring exhibition Come-in: interior design as a contemporary art medium in Germany held at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in 2003.