In the Studio with Jemima Murphy

In the studio with Jemima Murphy, a visual artist whose paintings explore an imaginary world, inspired by the beauty of nature. We met with Jemima to tell us more about growing up between London and New Forest, their greatest influences, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

I have always seen myself as an artist really – even before I decided to pursue this career. It’s always been a great passion of mine and ingrained in me. No matter where I’ve been, I’ve always kept up with painting.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?

I grew up in London and New Forest. Spending most weekends in Hampshire meant I was always surrounded by nature which I think has definitely had an impact on my work. I come from a large, artistic family so have been constantly inspired by the people around me too!

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice artistic work? 

At school I was always inspired by fauve artists. I was attracted to bright, bold colours from as early as I can remember so this is something that has always stayed with me. It wasn’t until lockdown when I had the time to delve back into painting and I found it was my only escape. Each work a window into a different memory. I think my own experiences, memories and emotions have definitely been a huge influence in my work and has got me to where I am now. Yes, I think there was a pivotal moment, fairly recently when I had just started or finished a piece and I was really excited and knew it was my future direction!

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? 

I always like to keep the narrative fairly ambiguous so people can interpret it for themselves. For me, they’re hugely personal and each have a narrative of their own – sometimes including faint or disguised figures or faces – although you don’t always need to see the face or figure to understand the narrative. I like that while one person  might find a piece sad or melancholic, another might find it uplifting and positive. My work explores the balance between memory and reality, centring around love and loss. It’s exciting as our memories are always changing as we’re always reinterpreting them so they’re forever evolving! Very often the memory is completely blurred and I end up creating a memory I wish I had – this is when the reality is lost completely and it turns into a complete desire or fantasy. Overall though, my message always centres back to drawing excitement or nostalgia.

Who & what are your greatest influences?  

My greatest influences are John Marin, Peter Doig, Hernas Bas, Ivon Hitchens, Micheal Armitage, Raoul Dufy, Matisse, Rousseau, Flora Yukhnovich and loads more! Im also  constantly sifting through old photographs of past relationships, family, friends (both good and bad memories!) – I leave them around my studio so they unconsciously infiltrate into my work. 

An unexpected source of inspiration?

I think it was when I was visiting the Fairy Pools in Skye and I suddenly wanted to rush back to the studio to paint. I became so obsessed by the waterfalls and still am I think.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?

 I never tend to think about what or how a piece os going to make someone else feel. But as long as it means something to me then I don’t mind. I suppose I want them to feel something- excited, happy or sad or relate to the work in some way. 

What events in your life have mobilized change in your practice?

I think my work drastically shifted last year when I was dealing with big life changes and my work became much more personal. Moving into my studio was a huge change – I had the space to explore more with size and felt much more free in general having my own space. Yes, I always experiment – sometimes I find the best actually come from my own mistakes though!

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

I always listen to music when I paint! The louder the better and then I’m less in my head and less restricted which I like. If its possible, painting outside is always amazing but I don’t get to fo this very often.

Tell us the inspiration behind your works?

With ‘Jaded Moon’, I experimented with space to find that balance between reality and memory – I think the space there captures that. I found it hard to interpret this particular memory which I think comes across in the work. But I love the ambiguity and confusion here – it’s a very personal piece for me, there’s something romantic about it.

Something in the future you hope to explore?

For the future, I would like to look more at taking the reality away from a memory and focus on particular moments or emotions that perhaps aren’t real, so looking more at desire and fantasy.