Jonathan Murphy (b. UK) | As you walked in the Room

Jonathan Murphy, Handcart and a 10 Gallon Hat

My name is Jonathan Murphy and I am an artist based in the UK. I mainly make paintings but I also make ceramics, they are often brightly coloured, some are large some are small. Hopefully, they are fun to look at.

I have over 20 years of experience as an artist and art technician, I studied painting at The University of Bradford and the UCL Slade School of Fine Art and held a Gasworks Studio from 2012–2018. I was an artist in Residence at Pivo Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2017.

I have curated numerous group shows and events, and have worked with Turner Prize nominees, and a host of international artists. I am the creator of the online platform Nada/Da. 

For my 2015 solo exhibition, ‘As You Walked in the Room’, I exhibited my paintings alongside photograms; the photograms were printed directly onto the gallery walls. They were made using a process of unfixed cyanotype and depicted the waste material created through my studio work. Over the course of the exhibition — in contrast to the paintings — the forms and images in the photograms disappeared, eroded by daylight.

As you walked in the Room

‘As you walked in the Room’ signals a moment before action: you are about to enter. When you step into the space, anything could happen and is about to happen. A smell of perfume triggers memories of a past lover; a martini is knocked off a table and crashes to the floor. What happens in our imagination is as important as what we see in the space. 

When we look at a painting, we time travel: Into our past to find a hook to hang our interpretations on (that smudge of white looks like a cloud, I see a face in that shape of colour) and — if the painting is any good — into an unknowable future. What happens when we look away from the canvas and then look back? In our absence, has the painting changed?

For my upcoming solo exhibition at Volt in Eastbourne, I will combine my current series of wall-based ceramics — inspired by founding beach objects — with these photographic and painted mediums.

These newly made ceramic tablets and woven clay grids are a procession of buckled open-weave baskets and warped paintings. Sandy greens, red ochres and, wide ribbons of clay hold a coarse salt-like crust; Iron oxide and blended glazes look excavated.

As a self-taught ceramicist, a lot of the things I find interesting I stumble upon through the mistakes I make. In this series, these process-led mistakes —misdemeanours in the world of pottery — make clay the perfect material to embody the accumulated distortions of my dream beach objects.

I’d really like you to follow me on Instagram @__jonathan__murphy. I would love to add you to my mailing list, and if you send me a message, I’d be happy to do that.



Handcart and a 10 Gallon Hat, oil and acrylic on canvas, 176 x 130 cm, 2021