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Craig Murray-Orr

Craig Murray-Orr was born in 1942 in Lower Hutt on the southern edge of New Zealand’s North Island and studied at the Ilam School of Fine Art in Christchurch in the early 1960s.  In 1968 he came to London and a few years later found himself arriving on a blind date at a house in Dartmouth Park on the edge off Hampstead Heath. He has been there ever since. He was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1973 and aside from his work as a painter and sculptor he is best known for his radio collaborations in the 1990s with the Scottish poet and humorist Ivor Cutler.

Murray-Orr is known for his meticulously-crafted sculptural works and his intense small-scale paintings. The common thread with all Murray-Orr’s work is an interest in the landscape. His pared down hunting rifles, each carved from a single piece of mahogany, beautifully capture the essence of their subject with the spare elegance of near abstraction.

His watercolours, also presented at a solo exhibition at Ingleby Gallery in the Spring of 2011, combine velvet blacks, deep purples, rich ochres, greys and greens to form vistas reminiscent of desert or lunar landscapes. These paintings are never geographically specific but instead are a mix of childhood memories and recent travels in Asia and North Africa. These imagined landscapes share the same reductive quality as Murray-Orr’s mahogany sculptures – spare, precise and deeply evocative.

Ingleby Gallery presented a major solo exhibition, Thirty Small Paintings, earlier in 2015.

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