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.
His fifty-year career as a sculptor of meticulously carved wooden forms, and as a painter of intensely concentrated landscapes, has been shaped by a mix of childhood memories of that vast, rough landscape and by more recent travels in Asia and North Africa. His works are deliberately austere and sensuous reductions of life filtered through memory and imagination that ultimately reflect the complexities of an emotional or mental state, rather than the specifics of geography. "As a painter" he says "I spend most of my days dreaming of times spent ice axe or gun in hand, on some high ridge, but the work is of nowhere specific. I spend time in desolate places to feed my soul not to sketch or take notes. The work is a distillation of all I feel about nature".
For the past three years he has worked exclusively on a series of small oil paintings on identically sized wooden boards, thirty of which will be the subject of this presentation. A new book will be published to accompany the exhibition.