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SUZY MURPHY HARBOUR ISLAND

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Cover image: She Sails Alone, oil on board, 2020. 25 ďż˝ 20 cm (detail)

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SUZY MURPHY HARBOUR ISLAND Virtual Exhibition 11th – 22nd May 2020

Lyndsey Ingram 20 Bourdon Street, London W1K 3PL T. +44 (0)20 7629 8849 E. info@lyndseyingram.com W. lyndseyingram.com


Da vid Flint Wood

I visited the studio of Suzy Murphy in London about four years ago and set my heart on a painting, which I’m glad to say I now own. ‘Burning’ is the silhouette of a farmhouse in snow with glowing orange in the glass panels of a door. There… there are tracks in the snow before the door. I can never decide if the tracks lead towards the door, with the prospect of a warm welcome.., or away from it, with someone having set a fire and left. Are we ‘burning’ with desire or ‘burning’ in anger – or both? In a slack sort of shorthand I tend to transfer my description of creative forms from one to another, more often than not ending up with film references, and I always think of Suzy’s paintings in the context of David Lynch: ‘Twin Peaks’, ‘Mulholland Drive’ and ‘Blue Velvet’, films where superficially pretty scenery, shop fronts, lakes and roads, cabins and night drives dissolve into scenes of heartbreakingly beautiful prom queens struggling for their lives in slow-mo, while the Cowboy Junkies croon “Hold on To Me...” It may just be me – and I have never presumed to ask Suzy outright whether the darkness on the edge of town says more about me than it does her – but there is ambiguity in all her work: for example, in such personal works, where are the people? Even if we know where they are: in the truck, by the fire or behind the window looking back at us, what are they doing? I am pretty certain that they are like figures from Edward Hopper: guarding their thoughts and keeping their opinions to themselves. I was intrigued to see what Suzy would make of island life in this context, particularly Harbour Island, where she stayed in my house for a fortnight and yet seemed too busy to ever come for a drink or dinner... – and now we see why. This island is, even by West Indian standards, ridiculously pretty: sorbet-coloured houses 4

Under My Tree, oil on board, 2020. 25 � 20 cm (detail)

HARBOUR ISLAND


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This Is My View, monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020. 63 � 50 cm (detail)

with their storm shutters in the town, coconut palms, walled gardens, mango trees overhanging narrow streets and a beach the colour of peach skin. All of the tourist brochure stuff is here. But islands are by definition ‘insular’. There is an ambiguity in the closed-off settlements, where people are bound together yet crave privacy; where they are surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean and an infinite horizon, and yet live within the paper-thin walls of adjacent houses, that only muffles the amorous whispers and arguments... We can sense some of this mood in the pretty-as-pink colonial house surrounded by a jungle that seems to step in closer at dusk in Suzy’s ‘The Edge of the Lawn’ and in the way night drops like a cloth after blinding sunshine in ‘Of Darkness’. ‘Hiding Under Trees’, ‘This is My View’ and ‘Hanging’ all return to the familiar Suzy Murphy territory of the attendant truck or car...; they could be simply parked in the shade, waiting for work to finish..., or just waiting… Are they empty or carrying islanders murmuring in Joseph Conrad’s “soft voices… boasting with composure, joking quietly...”? I started to think about this a couple of months ago but much has changed since then. I was going to write about isolation and how Suzy’s pictures give a sense of distance and solitariness, but this now seems a topic rather too topical – and certainly too frequently picked over by now in the months of Corona. I don’t want to end on the idea that this work is only remote and isolated. I think the pictures have great wit, are humanist, engaging and speculative... They are personal and, like a good movie or song, we can connect and indulge in our own interpretation of the events... and their outcomes. “Islands are magnets for people with stories,” as I said to Suzy. 7


Of Darkness Oil on board, 2020 Signed verso 25 � 20 cm (9 7/8 � 7 7/8 in)

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Under My Tree Oil on board, 2020 Signed verso 25 � 20 cm (9 7/8 � 7 7/8 in)

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The Edge Of The Lawn Monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020 Signed in pencil 41 � 33 cm (16 1/8 � 13 in)

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The Other Side Of The Sky Monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020 Signed in pencil 41 ďż˝ 33 cm (16 1/8 ďż˝ 13 in)

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Hanging Monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020 Signed in pencil 63 ďż˝ 50 cm (24 3/4 ďż˝ 19 3/4 in)

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This Is My View Monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020 Signed in pencil 63 ďż˝ 50 cm (24 3/4 ďż˝ 19 3/4 in)

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The Sound of Waves Oil on board, 2020 Signed verso 25 � 20 cm (9 7/8 � 7 7/8 in)

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She Sails Alone Oil on board, 2020 Signed verso 25 � 20 cm (9 7/8 � 7 7/8 in)

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As the Blue Waves Rise Oil on linen, 2019 Signed verso 122 � 82 cm (48 1/8 � 32 1/4 in)

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Open Window Oil on board, 2020 Signed verso 25 � 20 cm (9 7/8 � 7 7/8 in)

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On The Other Side Of The Sky Oil on board, 2020 Signed verso 25 � 20 cm (9 7/8 � 7 7/8 in)

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Ship To Shore Monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020 Signed in pencil 63 ďż˝ 50 cm (24 3/4 ďż˝ 19 3/4 in)

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As Blue Waves Rise Monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020 Signed in pencil 63 ďż˝ 50 cm (24 3/4 ďż˝ 19 3/4 in)

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Of Darkness Monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020 Signed in pencil 41 ďż˝ 33 cm (16 1/8 ďż˝ 13 in)

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Under My Tree Monoprint with hand-painting in oil, 2020 Signed in pencil 41 ďż˝ 33 cm (16 1/8 x 13 in)

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My Ship Is White Oil on board, 2020 Signed verso 25 � 20 cm (9 7/8 � 7 7/8 in)

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Cobalt Blue Oil on board, 2020 Signed verso 25 � 20 cm (9 7/8 � 7 7/8 in)

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Vast, deserted, majestic landscape with only the smallest hint of a human presence – the headlights of car or an isolated cabin – are recurrent themes in Suzy Murphy’s work. Her images are not just visual representations of observed landscapes, they are also imbued with a profoundly personal dialogue and underlying political commentary. Deeply autobiographical, her paintings are better understood as a form of self-portraiture. Born in London’s East End in 1964, Suzy Murphy moved to Alberta, Canada at the age of five. The shift from a small tenement apartment, where she lived with her large Irish family, to the vast open landscapes of North America, brought an enormous emotional shift. This experience became the creative catalyst that informs the tranquillity and magical realism of her work. Suzy Murphy’s love of North America has remained and she continues to travel extensively on annual road trips from the monumental landscapes of the Rocky Mountains to the sprawling townships and prairies. Her diarised sketches record her trips and these small, spontaneous images become the basis for her paintings. The narrative of her life is the subconscious thread that runs throughout her work and continues to quietly but surely present itself. Suzy Murphy is an alumna of St Martin’s School of Art, London in 1982. Her work is held in many important public and private collections worldwide. Suzy Murphy continues to live and work in London, England.

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Suzy Murphy in her studio, London 2019. Photograph by Emma Hardy

BIOGRAPHY


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As the Blue Waves Rise, oil on linen, 2019. 122 x 82 cm (detail)

S O LO E X H I B I T I O N S

2020 Harbour Island, Lyndsey Ingram, London 2019 I Won’t Look Away, Lyndsey Ingram, London 2018 E/AB Fair, Lyndsey Ingram, New York London Original Print Fair, Lyndsey Ingram, London 21st Century Women, Unit London 2017 When I Close My Eyes, Masters and Contemporary, London 2016 National Open Art, London, (Landscape Award) Pallant House, Chichester, (NOA Landscape Award) 2014-15 What I Thought I Saw, Mead Carney, London 2014 Threadneedle Prize, Mall Gallery, London 2010 Threadneedle Prize, Mall Gallery, London

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“I guess in the paintings you are always setting off, or in transit, but you never arrive, and that can leave you with an uncomfortable feeling. And I want the viewer to go on this emotional journey with me... but I don’t know where it ends.” – Suzy Murphy


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Profile for Lyndsey Ingram

Suzy Murphy | Harbour Island 2020  

Lyndsey Ingram presents ‘Harbour Island’, a selection of paintings and monoprints by Suzy Murphy made from her travels to the Bahamian retre...

Suzy Murphy | Harbour Island 2020  

Lyndsey Ingram presents ‘Harbour Island’, a selection of paintings and monoprints by Suzy Murphy made from her travels to the Bahamian retre...