"Andy Lesley's knees are made of Blu-Tack. Pass it on." The last time we were making a paper collage was in junior school and instead of paying attention we were spreading thisprobably untrue rumour. If Stirchley-studioed artist Mark Murphy had been the one we were whispering to, you can bet the Queen's paper that he wouldn't have passed it on. No sir. He was paying attention. And it's paid off.
A graphic designer for more than twenty years, Mark's move into hand cut paper collage began in the last five — with all the challenges of creating art where you can't simply click "undo" if you make a mistake. Seeking out wonderful and weird books, prints and paraphernalia, Scottish Onsen (pictured, above) comes from Mark's personal experience of Japan, a charity shop book on the nation's culture and a seventies text on British landscapes. "Look at the colour of the sky" points out Mark. "If I can see a book with an over-saturated scene like that, I don't care what's in it — landscapes, faces, scenes — it's about capturing a time, and colours rarely reproduce like that any more."
Sometimes abstract, sometimes figurative, often humorous, Mark's collages shake up the senses with graphic composition, space, scale and surrealism. "Another idea that recurs is what happens if you take away the content of an area and replace it with something else", Mark continues. "I've produced a series of doorways, like New Neighbours (pictured), doing exactly that, with strong juxtaposition often influenced by travel, with what you can't see through the doorway often being as important as what you can."
Still happy to use to his computer for the right opportunity, Storm in a Teacup is a digital collage that places a tumultuous Dutch painting into an old Japanese cup. "You can repeat something without ever really thinking about what it would look like but as in this case, sometimes a phrase will propel an idea." Submitted in response to a call byPhotomediations for image creators around the world to produce mashups from the free to use archives of museums, Mark didn't completely realise he'd entered a competition until his piece was selected by the judges of world-renowned galleries as the overall winner.
|Back in the hand cut world, So From Here I Can See You Talkin' was created for Humilitism, a group exhibition at Gamma Proforma, looking at social media and the quest for 'likes'. Centred on the sort of piece of machinery our Dad showed off to anyone who'd listen, Mark's focus was on the idea that we take modern technology for granted. "By looking at a vintage phone that really isn't that old in the whole scheme of things, I started to consider the tracking of the flow of information and how it is eventually projected — a big issue right now."|
'I Choose Birmingham' is a free weekly email about the best things to do in Brum. Subscribe below.