Sunday, June 24, 2007

....whit a psychological lift....

Many artists do other jobs to provide the money to continue their art activities, some find jobs related to their art practice working for arts organisations and galleries and some just do two bit part time joe-jobs, they don’t pay well but they do not take too much emotional energy and allow one to coast through the day whilst earning a small but useful wage. This is the life of Stuart Murray, however unlike his artistic contemporaries Murray has turned this work/art balance on it’s head and uses his experiences in these jobs to create his artwork, he looks at those work colleagues and members of the public he has met working as a postman and filing clerk. Murray creates drawings that depict a cartoon Glasgow world of alcoholics, the homeless, disillusioned men and women in low paid work and people aware of a changing city that is leaving them behind, don’t be fooled by the word cartoon though, there is no caricature in these simply rendered line drawn portraits annotated with the anecdotes of the people he depicts. We see the homeless and drunk cadging a few quid or cigarettes, the guy in the pub drowning his sorrows because of ill health, the woman angered by the smell of accumulated piss on the stairs of her block of flats. All these stories and many others are contained in printed booklets, these read as diaries of travels around the city, with Murray as postman he documents the concerns of those whose post he delivers on his route, we see days spent talking with neighbours in his local pub and most touchingly the story of his developing friendship with an older male colleague in an anonymous filing room in a Glasgow office building. Murray litters his book with the colourful language of his hometown, like real life Murray’s stories swing between humour and melancholy, hope and fear, we see a city and it’s inhabitants in all their many guises.

Stuart Murray takes a simple style of drawing and production and creates art of real strength, here at the Cell project space it is an emotional ride to engage with Murray’s art but whether those stories we see are happy or sad they are certainly enjoyable. Other artists may use the source material to ridicule those whose lives he has depicted but something comes through loud and clear, this is reality and Murray belongs amongst these people, they are real, we cry with them not for them, we laugh with them not at them, their concerns affect us whether we realise or not.

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