Frog Cast in Bronze © The Artist

Artist Spotlight: Joseph Murphy
April 13, 2016
In the latest instalment of our 'Artist Spotlight' series ACS artist Joseph Murphy discusses how his background as a carpenter has influenced his artistic practice as a wood carver and sculptor.


Q. How would you define your work in three words?


Catching fleeting glimpses.



Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?


Wood and bronze, but drawing underpins everything I do. I cannot separate the materials as they feed off each other and each inspires me in different ways. Wood and bronze are unforgiving mediums everything has to be intentional – there is no room for uncertainty. Draftsmanship is very important and attention to detail, line and form is essential.



Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?


My work is founded in nature, but often it is actually about the human condition.


My background as a carpenter has left me with a love of architecture and outdoor spaces. When I walk around London, where my studio is based, I am always looking up at the architecture and its detailing. I am also drawn to nature, animals and landscapes are essential elements in much of my work. I have a great love of animals and their character.


These two influences may seem incompatible, but it seems to me that the further away from nature people get the more they need to include it in the things they surround themselves with. Baroque woodcarving, which you see all around London, is fantastic in the ways in which it incorporates natural forms with architectural detailing seamlessly. That is something I often think about, how we impact on our environment and how it impacts us in return.



Q. Take us through your working process.


Capturing the first spark of inspiration is very important to me, even if it is just a couple of marks on paper of or a small sketch model to help me remember the emotional response I had to an animal, plant or person. From the initial response I either work up a a model in wax, often breaking it down to nothing and staring from scratch, or I just carve straight into a block of wood, finding the form and adjusting as I go.
I like to battle with the work and I don’t settle until I have a strong emotional response to it.



Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?


I have always been surrounded by art, my father is an artist and always surrounded us with art, materials and great advice. I always liked art, but the first time that I felt I had really produced something was when I was drawing and painting flowers, aged 11. I discovered an intense interest in in the form of a particular shape, I couldn’t get enough of those forms and I still can’t, it is an unending obsession.






Joseph Murphy is a graduate of the City and Guilds of London Art School. His work is included in the Federation of British Artists exhibition Finding the Future of Figurative Art, currently on display at the Beverley Art Gallery until April 23rd.