The Hard Rules, 2011
waterweights, four tonnes of water
Much of Murphy’s work deals with the relationship of land to water, and situates itself frequently in the impermanent, edgeless territory between the two. He sees these areas as sites of contention, fought for spaces, keeping in and keeping out, attack and defence. Almost Island – a literal translation of ‘Peninsula’ - has its investigative origins in the area called 'Doggerland' – the name given to the landmass that once provided a land bridge between the UK and the Netherlands. It sits now under the North Sea, an enormous sandbank containing the remains of monkeys, elephants and lions, long-since obscured by rising sea-levels and changing geography. It is also said that the River Thames was once a tributary of the Rhine, and this great river cut right across ‘Doggerland’ before continuing its course out into the Channel.
The interest in this quasi-mythical landscape formed the basis of Murphy’s M4 Gastatelier / Artquest residency (2010) in Amsterdam, and expanded his interests in how landscape is continually manipulated and managed by its inhabitants. Notions of Utility run through the work; how and for what purposes things are built, mapped, measured and organised. Murphy sees the act of building as an essentially positive, affirmative act, extending both to architecture and sculpture. But these acts are continually shadowed by an awareness of their essential fallibility in the face of nature and passing time. Things are borrowed rather than owned, concrete crumbles, and retreat inevitably follows each advance.
David Murphy studied at Newcastle College, and Glasgow School of Art. Selected group shows include Bursary Awards, Royal Society of British Sculptors, London (2007); SLOW, August Art/Edward Cullinan Architects, London (2008); Another Place, Glasgow School of Art, Scotland, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China (2008-9); Impromptu, Schwartz Gallery, London (2009), and the Jerwood Drawing Prize (2009/10). He was artist in residence at M4 Gastatelier, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2010), and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Scotland, (2010); he presented work at Kunstvlaai/TÜYAP Art Fair Istanbul, Turkey (2010). He lives in London.
This exhibition was kindly supported by Water Weights, EEDA, Essex and Suffolk Water, and Arts Council England.