Colette Murphy


b. 1975, New Ross

Colette Murphy was born in New Ross in 1975 and, influenced by American Abstract Expressionists like Mark Rothko, Willem De Kooning, and Jackson Pollock she emigrated to New York at an early age in the hopes to follow in their footsteps or seize the opportunities New York could offer a young artist. Murphy studied at Hunter College, New York, and graduated with a Masters Degree in Fine Art in 2008. After that she commenced studio work in Brooklyn and her exceptional skill was quickly noticed by astute art collectors, and she was selected for inclusion and illustration in The Open Studios Press publication New American Paintings, 2011.

As an artist Murphy is committed to recording the world as she perceives it and is most interested in the reading of specific events, rather than the event itself. Her primary objective is to capture the moments that prelude what is happening in the picture. She acknowledges that large, well-constructed, man-made objects that have been built with everlasting life in mind charm her, but when pitted against the forces of nature they crumble and are swallowed by the world in which they were designed to thrive.

She makes large-scale paintings with images of sailing ships and floating icebergs that convey a somewhat apocalyptic view of a melting planet. Her work contains a lot of water and there seems to be a return to the biblical story of Noah’s ark and the Great Flood. In the painting Endurance , the solitary image of the ship is a beacon of hope, and so it seems there are contradictory emotions in her view of a world of doom and complete catastrophe filled with optimism hoping for some miracle to occur in the last hour. Concurrently they also recall the perils faced by emigrants from New Ross and Ballyhack to Newfoundland in the 18th and 19th Centuries, for the cod fishing industry. Earlier work has included riveting enigmatic depictions of ghostly hunt horses and riders in the countryside. Murphy states that these are allegorical studies from an inner dialogue regarding politics, social criticism, and fantasy. She is concerned for the global environment, which is under such threat from the explosion of the human population in the most recent century. “My work bears the weight of an unbearable emotional response to the events around us. I paint to survive the impact.”

Murphy won the Tony Smith Award in 2009 and the Estelle Levy Award for painting in 2008. Since then her paintings have been exhibited in New York, London, Berlin and Venice and works have been purchased for private and public collections internationally.