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Wellcome Collection Presents Charlie Murphy The Anatomy of Desire and Other Experiments

The Wellcome Collection presents Charlie Murphy The Anatomy of Desire and Other Experiments on view through 30 November 2011.

Charlie Murphy’s work often encourages or relies on the participation of the public, but at its heart is an exploration of the intimate—the private.

Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1999, Murphy has been inviting members of the public to collaborate with her to visualise spaces and shapes of desire. During this time, she has collected hundreds of casts from all over the world through performative ‘kiss-in’ events and open invitations, creating a wide range of sculptures that record unique moments of intimate human contact.

Occupying specially adapted display cases spread over three floors of the Wellcome Collection stairway, this exhibition shows selected works from this continuing project, as well as new directions Murphy’s work is taking through her interest in performance and the processes of making.

Each sculpture is created through a series of positive and negative mould making techniques, using wax, latex and investment plaster, before being fired in a glass kiln and polished to enhance the magnifying and reflective qualities of the glass.

Murphy has also developed a series of glass sculptures from direct impressions of intimate parts of the human body—offering challenging new representations of male and female positive and negative forms.

Created in more private circumstances, this series again involved the participation of the public, who applied to receive their own personal casting kits and returned their contributions through the post.

Murphy is always interested in sharing her intrigue in the processes involved in making her work. Alongside the human body and human desire, light and glass have been the principal materials of Murphy’s art. She takes particular delight in exploring how these can be manipulated, with the processes of manipulation themselves often becoming the subject of her work.

Such is the case with her new video installation, Retort (Turning Circles), created especially for this exhibition and accompanied by an original score created by Jorge Queijo. The video celebrates the rhythms and skills of scientific glassblowing by master of this dwindling trade, Raymond Tribe, with whom Murphy has often collaborated and from whom she learned many of the techniques employed in her artworks shown here.

This installation is complemented by new works in borosilicate glass which include a tiny, theatrically staged sculpture of a hymen and a series of hand drawn ‘blood vessels’ which form the centrepiece of the exhibit on the second floor.

This e-flux is kindly supported by the Wellcome Trust, AA2A, Arts Council England and ArtSway Associates scheme. Charlie Murphy is an ArtSway Associate.

Complementing ArtSway’s exhibition residency and commissioning programme, ArtSway Associates aims to provide legacy support for selected artists. ArtSway Associates is ArtSway’s continuing professional development programme for ten artists who have previously undertaken an ArtSway residency. The programme offers critical support, advocacy, training and seed funding for creative activity over three years.

ArtSway Associates is financially supported by The Leverhulme Trust and Arts Council England.

Image: Charlie Murphy, “’Retort’ (Turning Circles)”, digital video 4′ 30″, (soundtrack by Jorge Queijo), 2011, digital video, sandblasted scientific glass, retort stands and clampas, mirrors, projector, 60cm x 60cm x 60cm. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE
T +44 (0)20 7611 2222

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