Anomaly Island - Harriet Murray


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Friday, 25 November 2011 - Sunday, 11 December 2011


Anomaly Island 

Opening reception: 24th November 6.00 - 9.00pm
Exhibition runs: 25th November – 11th December 2011
Film and discussion evening: 7th December 2011 7.30pm
As the smoke of smouldering cinders from this summer’s riots lingers in the air we hear the sound of raked seating being unbolted from the The Lord Mayors Parade. Against this backdrop with all its gilded pomp and lollipop glory neatly screening the fledgling feathers of the protest camp at St Paul’s, Harriet Murray installs her new exhibition Anomaly Island.
Conjuring multiple references through an English history from Daniel Defoe to Nick Clegg, Anomaly Island draws us to uneasy shores. Murray’s new installation raises questions by the handful and unloads them at our feet. 
Personal psychology and thought are individual outcrops surrounded by oceans. We are islands of neuro-linguistic flowerings, electro-chemical broth, where life choices must be negotiated through a maze of ‘nurture’ neurons, ‘nature’ quarks and daily bombardment by symbols of corporatized power and culture.
Life goes on, we go to work, we butter the toast, but what happens when our compliance barometer begins to beep and we recalibrate our assumptions and shred old expectations?
Murray’s new work explores the complex relationships between, the known self and the revealed self, between first world comforts and the desire to escape its suffocation, our need for community and our longing for peace, solitude and time to reflect. Making a home, is at the heart of what it is to be human, making a shelter is a matter of survival. For what is a bird without a nest?
Teetering on an edge between a glamorous glance to an idealized existence and a very human struggle of survival, Anomaly Island presents us with three distinctive artworks brought together at Campbell Works. An ‘Englishman’s castle’ made from patriotic vegetable boxes filled with a lifetime of memorabilia, a ghostly raft that offers to transport us through the veil, and an elegiac video of perennial calm. “et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge]."
Artist / curator Harriet Murray has been creating ambitious interactive and collaborative projects for the past 10 years, weaving a route through the commercial, experimental, and public realms. She has worked and exhibited across London, Vienna, Edinburgh, Brighton, Berlin and Potsdam. Murray’s work examines the complexities of interpretation, exploring what is inherent within an artwork and what an audience brings to it, so making our own imaginations visible. Her fascination with the intimate relationship between internal and external realities gives her work an uneasy twist, delving to the limits of acceptability and exploring the impossibility of hiding what should perhaps remain hidden. By using everyday objects and familiar subject matter Murray challenges us to look again and re-examine what we thought we knew so well.

Harriet Murray's new body of work Anomaly Island playfully explores memories of personal and collective history.  Her visual and cerebral journey examines our relationships with each other along with recent social political turbulences and aspects of Britain's past. She invites visitors to immerse and follow her journey as well as offering a platform for their own interpretations and recollections.

When entering Campbell works the installation 'Natural Selection' a silver gafa taped bubble wrap Union Jack welcomes the visitors. The re-branded British flag appears fresh and nonchalant, signalling change to revised thoughts and new experiences.

The main gallery displays six works, one installation, three sculptural pieces and two wall pieces. 'Island' an 'Englishman's Castle' as Murray refers too, an installation captivating and dominating by nature.  At first glance the piece conveys stability and solidity, but when crawling inside one soon becomes aware of its fragility.  The carefully arranged memorabilia, a labour of love, presents private and shared experiences as well as the precarious environment we live in. The dwelling is bordered with three plastic plants each decorated with various objects suggesting metaphors of a rural myth.

The 'Woodpecker Joiner’ a fascinating entanglement constructed from ropes and fishing nets. It is a poetic and an accomplished piece that conveys protectionism, whereas the wood pecker is inspecting the nest for unwanted intruders.

An aluminium oval is transformed into a memorial plaque and decorated with bound tried seaweed and shells.  The work is titled ’Foreshore Dream 3’ and mirrors melancholy and emptiness. Is this an expression of angst and sorrow?

In the adjacent gallery we find Murray's most powerful work 'Anomaly'.  The mast of a ghostly raft  is sujestive of a slim primitive wooden figure, standing on the prow, an early ancestor stranded and forlorn, perhaps?  With persistence he gazes calmly into a distant world in hope of finding humanity and compassion.  This scenario is heightened by the video work 'Asylum' showing repetitive gentle ocean waves, echoing abundance and isolation.

Murray's works are thoughtfully and meticulously constructed and executed. Some of her pieces exuberate with imagination; others are loaded with observations and political references engaging the onlooker in the conundrum and struggle of humankind.  It is refreshing to find an artist not succumbed by market doctrines.  Her artistic practice is exciting; she creates stimulating pieces with profound meaning and presents an honest response to our chaotic and restless world. 

Renée Pfister,  December 2011

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