James Murray

University: University of Brighton

Graduation: 2015


Statement: Drawing upon a range of theoretical and art-historical references, my work takes the photographic as a critical concept for thinking through an interdisciplinary studio-based art practice. Ideas of touch, trace, materiality and desire are explored through a range of materials and techniques, resulting in sculptures, photographs and paintings. Individual works are then brought together in self-reflexive installations, seeking points of tension between abstraction and figuration.

  Beheld  photobook

Beheld photobook

Since completing a photography MA at the University of Brighton in 2015, I have shown my work in both fine art and photographic contexts and I like the flexibility and opportunities this offers. Recent exhibitions and events include Athens Photo Festival at the Benaki Museum, East Sussex Open at Towner Gallery, An Ardesia Projects group show as part of Brighton Photo Fringe, and a portfolio exhibition at NYC Art book fair with Daily Life Storage.

 From the series  Beheld

From the series Beheld

Direction: My previous body of work Beheld, which I made on my MA, took Classical representations of the male form as a starting point for a exploration of the body as object of desire, and the failure of artistic process as a means of retaining the object by way of its representation. This resulted in range of works which spanned photography, drawing, sculpture and performance. I found that the traditional photo-series and project based work was not really compatible with my work and therefore it made sense to approach it as an 'artist book' rather than a photobook per se.

  Beheld  installation shot

Beheld installation shot

Considerations: Beheld combines installation shots taken in my studio with text works, photomontages and 'flat' images. It's softbound and the main body of the book is printed on cheap recycled stock giving it a zine like feel. I contrasted the low-fi aspect by including six tipped-in prints on tracing paper and a piece of 24K gold leaf, which was left over material from a sculpture called Failed Circle that was shown in the exhibition. Also included is an essay, An Impossible Task, written about the work by the photographer Sean Padraic Birnie.

I crowd funded the money to make the first 50 of the edition of 100 and sent a bunch off to galleries, curators and people whose work I admire, including Bruno Ceschel who featured it on the SPBH website. After I sold the remaining copies I printed the other half of the edition, which was not very cost efficient but at the time I was skint and just needed to get the work out there. It's broken even, not including the hours spent on the design, liaising with printers, assembling and packaging and posting them. I used two printers to make the book, which to be honest was a bit of a nightmare but you learn by doing these things. It's by no means a perfect piece of work but I am pleased with the way it turned out and experience of making and publishing my own book was invaluable.

 From the series  Beheld

From the series Beheld


Advice and Future Plans: I am now in the process of setting up a new studio in Brighton with the photographer/artist Martin Seeds and I am busy preparing for several solo and group exhibitions in 2017. I plan to make another book in the new year but this one will be more of a conceptual object which will accompany one of my upcoming shows.

  Beheld  photobook

Beheld photobook

If I had to give any advice for younger photographers/artists I would say don't be afraid to reach out to people and introduce them to your work. Don't neglect the business side of your practice and be professional. It's a small scene that becomes easier to navigate as your networks expand, so go to exhibitions and art fairs and talk to people. Skill swap with friends, apply for awards, submit to opens, show up and do the work. Don't wait for the world to come to you.