Blue cloud
Oil on linen over board
20 x 25 cm
Winner of this year's Painting Prize, selected by Andrew Wilson, curator of contemporary art at Tate Britain, London.

The contained landscape of the city park bears the residue of our being in the world, an imagined corner where we meet nature with hope and the possibility of a home for our best ideals.

Somehow, like paintings the park suggests a parallel place of renewal where familiarity exists alongside the ungraspable nature of the material universe: resting places for forgotten sculptures, ponds reflecting the sky, the drama of birds and brave flowers.

Photo Booth
Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm
Wildlife, Oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm
Sculpture Limbo
Oil on board, 20 x 25 cm
The subject matter in these panel paintings comes partly from film stills and also from remembered things. Having been removed from their original context the objects now have a slightly abject air and the world of the painting becomes a container for an accumulation of lost fragments.

I've been making watercolours on paper in recent months and working on panel was quite a challenge. Watercolour gets absorbed by the paper and a certain amount of the image stays put when you flood it whereas thinned oil paint on 
Rose Bed
Oil on board, 20 x 25 cm
panel slips over the surface and doesn't allow for such drastic changes without losing everything! But as I became more familiar with how the paint behaved on this smooth surface I began to enjoy the process and fancied that my panels resembled, or were in the spirit of the small overlooked and   sometimes humorous  scenes of everyday life and objects that are often depicted at the base of grand Renaissance altar pieces!

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Pool, Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 cm
My painting "Pool" is included in the Fundraising Auction for the Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, UK.

Castlefield Gallery Fundraising Auction: 

Put Your Money Where Your Eyes Are

Castlefield Gallery will hold an extraordinary Fundraising Auction on Wednesday 30 May 2012, 6-9pm. 

The auction will feature almost fifty original artworks from nationally and internationally acclaimed artists/curators, many of whom have exhibited or worked with Castlefield Gallery before such as Pavel Büchler, Shezad Dawood (Abraaj Capital Art Prize 
and Tate Triennial), Leo Fitzmaurice (Northern Art Prize 2011 winner), Lubaina Himid MBE, Mark Leckey (Turner Prize 2008 winner), Haroon Mirza (Silver Lion, Venice Biennale 2011), Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Olivia Plender (British Art Show and Tate Triennial), Peter Saville and Liam Smain.phppencer with 100% of the auction sales proceeds going to Castlefield Gallery.  

The auctioneer for the evening will be highly respected artist and teacher Professor Pavel Büchler of Manchester Metropolitan University.

Castlefield Gallery now is calling on art lovers and collectors to support it in raising funds that will ensure the gallery’s continual success in providing exhibiting and professional development opportunities for artists.

Online bidding will begin from 4 May and the works will be exhibited at the gallery from 19 May.


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Duende Studios, Rotterdam
Duende resident artists Fionna Murray and  Momu & No Es, together with invited artists Keren Cytter, Arnoud Holleman and Martijn in ’t Veld.

Fionna Murray’s paintings take form from ideas of home, and an ordering of one’s immediate surroundings, but they are not ‘homely’. Instead they hint at fleeting moments of loneliness and insight in the midst of the everyday, whilst retaining a distance that belongs to the sphere of the painting itself. Using photographs, film stills and remembered things as source material, her drawings and paintings are an accumulation of small truths and unexpected discoveries.

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Light Floater
Light Floater, Oil on canvas, 90 x 120 cm
Greyness becomes its own subject in the work of award winner Fionna Murray. In the two paintings exhibited, Light Floater and Faith in Wordless Knowledge, figure and objects hang on their teetering presence over vast unresolved grey grounds in resonance with Klee's words of a fateful point of uncertain balance.

It is tempting to see a parallel between these works in a perpetual state of becoming and adjudicator Le Feuvre's interest in failure (she edited a forthcoming book on the subject), which she describes as "something incomplete and open to possibilities." It is an attractive proposition and a welcome antidote to the relentless demands of a culture of achievement.

Wildlife Oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm
Memory, especially of childhood, and its combination with themes that invest it with the eerie or uncanny become the primary tools by which most of the works in this show state their case. However it is their concern with material and colour that is the more interesting element of the show, as a whole, and is reminiscent of what’s good about Zebedee Jones’ monochromes. Undercoating in neon pink and orange is a technique used in a number of the works; as it shows through later layers of blue-greys and browns it renders them a simultaneous wash of hot and cold colour. It echoes northern renaissance portraits, where green gains an exaggerated presence in skin tones, and not only as a functional device but also as an overture to the counter-intuitive, alchemical principles deployed by the artist.  

[...] The colours are often muddied by continued mixing and working wet into wet, though it doesn’t read this as any kind of anti-aesthetic statement, rather as an appreciation of paint at its queiter moments. Oil paint can display a frankness when it is allowed to turn muddy, as though it’s tired of showing off. 
Fionna Murray’s paintings are an example of this; empty interior spaces realised in greyed-out canvases interrupted by glimpses of the day-glo layer underneath. The addition of a buck’s head to Wildlife, mounted above a naively rendered radiator give the scene an air of a slowly disiccating elderly aunt’s house or sinister Bates Motel. The uncanny is invoked using the same filmic alphabet that contains the buzzing neon sign. It is possible for a painting itself to be included in the same vocabulary as a pop-cultural meme and that is part of its appeal here - there is a kind of emotional mustiness that can attach itself to paintings; arcane products of an inferred, overwrought relationship with their maker that also have the accumulated dust of their tradition’s long history settled on them. Inward looking as it is, painting itself can be made to look creepy. 
Portrait II, Oil on canvas, 30x25cm
Review of By Invitation, Paul Kane Gallery, Dublin

At the Paul Kane Gallery, there's a nice variation on the group exhibition theme. Three gallery artists each invited an artist of their choosing and all six show work. Philippa Sutherland, who shows three fine monochromatic paintings, including the terrific Full Moon, invited Fionna Murray, whose carefully elaborated works exemplify another, usefully complementary way of approaching representation. Marc Reilly, who shows watercolours that function very well as a set, invited Anthony Lyttle, a thoughtful, interesting artist. Jackie Nickerson shows fine photographs from her series on farm workers in southern Africa. She invited Simon Burch, whose subtle, formally exact bog landscape photographs are first-rate. An enjoyable show with some real surprises.

Nostalgia, if we consider its etymological origins as an acute homesickness, a desire for home, is a useful meaning with which to engage with Fionna Murray's A Real Corner of the World. Murray examines the role of place, separation and unreliable memories of the past and how they contribute to constructing our perception of the present. While each one of these areas is a thematic heavy-hitter Murray manages to break them down into small fragmentary elements that go to create a subtle, articulate and thoughtful show. 

Her series of small paintings and works on paper, which hover somewhere between a conventional gallery hang and an installation, present an understated sense that wherever you are, you are always longing for somewhere else. What holds up the show under the weight of its own metaphysical themes is an ambiguous, understated and frank treatment of its imagery and subjects. Things remain provisional, small melancholic enquiries are entered into, events and stimuli are half remembered or misremembered, fragmentary.

To establish this sense of fragmentation an entire wall is given over to a grouping of twelve small interrelated works on paper and canvases framed within an existing archway. Pieces titled Bracelet, Playground, Gobstoppers and Hopscotch indicate specific personalized snapshots of recall, yet they work more successfully when considered as fragments of one larger piece. Each small work echoes and mirrors something of the next, creating an overlapping space for the viewer to reflect and piece things together where memories accumulate and meta-narratives emerge.

Formally the work is painterly, employing a palette of muted greys, greens, blues and ochres, populated by a range of simplified well rendered images drawn from fragments of urban architecture, photographs, isolated rural forests, childlike figures, dreamy personal objects and film stills. It is the inclusion of works from film stills that increases the focus from the subjective to a shared sense of memory. 

In Double Murray recreates a painting that was featured in the background of a set in Krzysztof Kieslowski's 1991 film The Double life of Véronique, itself a treatise on fragmentary senses of identities. This interplay is further extended in That's me? depicting a naïvely painted young girl under a street lamp. Similarly derived from an existing painting, in this case one shown in Cédric Klapisch's 1996 exploration of place in Paris, Chacun cherche son chat, the title reads autobiographically, yet "That's me?" is simply what appeared as the subtitle when the painting was in shot.   

The shared range of reduced colours and the almost comic iconography brings coherence to disparate subjects and sources. For instance in the painting Town Hall a small brown cloud traverses a mute blue-grey sky on what looks like a collision course with a nondescript modernist tower block. Directly beside this a larger canvas, The Fairy Dens, appears to depart into the magical with a cluster of bright grey and white simplified stars arcing over what could be a mirror, picture or handbag set against a creamy grey-and-blue background. Here are two extremes in intention and ambition, yet they are held together through a lyrical understatement, wry humour and melancholy that sidesteps their way past any grand overblown pictorial declarations. Stylistically some of the works recall Hiroshi Sugito and Norbert Schwantowski. Comparison to their work is useful insofar as it serves to illustrate a shared interest in the lack of the grandiose and to privilege the provisional over dramatic pictorial heroics.
An effective device in the exhibition is the placement of handwritten titles in pencil below the paintings. On first viewing this text is not immediately apparent, its faint pencil lines receding against the works. However, it functions as a way of formally linking the titles to the paintings and drawings. The sensation is one of someone trying to record their memories, to capture them with an urgent notation. This could be a contrived device, yet it works in this context, echoing the simplicity of means and understatement that is characteristic in the work. Similarly, the placement of the painting Double, propped up on the mantle of the gallery fireplace, leaning against the wall, adds to a domestic and intimate reading of the space rather than a grand theatrical gesture. In terms of programming, this exhibition appeared thematically linked to other shows running concurrently with A Real corner of the world. Yvonne Cullivan's A Staggering ten million, Adrian Paci's Apparizione and Robin Whitmore's Dream diary all directly and indirectly addressed issues of home, place and memory. This successfully allowed for Murray's show, itself made up of fragments, to be read as a part of a larger exploration of similar themes. 

Circa, No. 123 (Spring, 2008), pp. 78-79

Brian Fay is an artist and lecturer in Fine Art at the Dublin Institute of of Technology