I made it into the studio this week – finally! Virus behind me, sons’ exams over – a clear day for myself and nine solid, solitary hours of sorting and rearranging. Just a few stray bits and pieces piled up in one part of the studio, but overall, the floor space is clear and a lot of stuff has been put back into some sort of order. My desk is tidy, bar a couple of items I left placed on it – seeds of new ideas for work to come, perhaps?

Whether the end of this massive clear up signals the start of developing new work remains to be seen but whatever, I’m already looking forward to finding the time to get back into the studio, to start playing and experimenting with the rediscovered objects, and see where that might lead. I have no idea which direction my work might take me in this coming year. Scary, but sort of liberating at the same time – I have in any case, numerous pieces of unfinished work to revisit and make decisions about.

But for now, a quote that the Artists Talking editors took from my last post and put on Twitter has got me thinking: ‘The Beginning of History’ exhibition ended in early December; this somehow though, feels like the beginning for me.’ Faced with it, I had to think about what I meant when I wrote that.

One particular piece of work, Here Today, which I created especially for The Beginning of History, made a big impact on me – stirred something deep in me which needed to be processed. Maybe it’s this that made me feel I was at the start of something new, right at the end of the show – something to give more thought to and develop further? My thoughts have kept returning to this particular piece of work – what made it stand out for me?

I remember my response to first producing it in the studio – one of those defining moments when everything seemed to come together and felt ‘just right.’ To my eyes, it seemed that all four selected items sat beautifully together and the visual effect as far as I was concerned, was so aesthetically appealing that it made my heart sing. I’ve been thinking about it a lot – that moment, when for whatever reason, I felt I’d created something that for me personally, was special.

On reflection, I feel that in ‘Here Today‘ I captured something that gets to the very core of my practice – the part that motivates me and keeps me interested and hooked into the work I make. I describe it in my artist statement as my work reflecting ‘… a fascination with the passage of time and the contrast between the permanence of objects and the fragility of life.’

It was the emotional connection to the objects that touched and moved me. Such intimate and highly personal objects, still here, physically present – in the flesh, as it were – while the hands that touched and used them, left their trace on them, no longer exist. ‘The permanence of objects‘ – the mirror, the powder, the make-up, the faded silk flower – and the powder puff, especially for me, so reminiscent of the skin itself – recollections of precious moments spent with Nana at her dressing table.

These physical objects, however battered and used, essentially all still exist, while the woman whose life was so intrinsically involved in using them, no longer does – that fine line ‘between the permanence of objects and the fragility of life.


The viral infection I’ve had recently has left me feeling quite depleted; I still haven’t managed to get to the studio to address the dire mess it’s in and I’ve had to let go of fulfilling any of the projects I had anticipated starting for the new year. Getting better has been a priority and I’ve taken advantage of quiet days at home to catch up with reading, writing and sorting through images of my recent work – and in particular, the images I took of Here Today, exhibited as part of The Beginning of History group show. This particular piece was created specifically for the show and developed from a conversation between myself, Nick Kaplony, the show’s curator, and Shelley Rae, another of the artists in The Beginning of History exhibition.

It was while speaking with Nick and Shelley about my proposal some weeks prior to the start of the show, that a conversation emerged about how much like a performance piece my work seemed. There was something visually captivating, I suppose about presenting them with the various physical objects I intended to use as part of an assemblage – the placing of them, the swapping and changing, as I talked my ideas through with them – trying to make up my mind about what to leave on the bedside cabinet and what to take away – a kind of ongoing, recurring dance.

It’s not the first time that performance art has been mentioned in relation to my work – certainly, I remember a choreographer I know speaking about there being strong elements of it entrenched in my 10×10 project. It’s an observation that intrigues and excites me – it adds a new dimension to the way I think about my work.

I was delighted to take up Nick’s suggestion that I experiment in interacting with Here Today during the show’s two week duration and I subsequently named the work in accordance with the idea of a here today, gone tomorrow principle.

My studio is in the same building as the ASC studios Bond House project space, where The Beginning of History was shown and being in such close proximity meant being able to visit the exhibition on an almost daily basis, allowing me to really immerse myself in both my own work and the other artists’. It felt like the perfect set-up for me – giving me the time and space to properly experiment with the various objects I was working with.

As it turned out, interacting with the work once it was in situ proved to be a rewarding and worthwhile experience. It reminded me how much I enjoy the actual process of installing – especially when it can be done at my own pace, unhurried and with space for thought and consideration about the surrounding environment. And because of the emotional attachment to the items I chose to include in this particular assemblage, it felt good to have the time to treat them with the respect I felt they deserved. Nick’s sensitive and intuitive approach to curating picked up on the personal significance of the items I brought to the show, describing my work as constructing ‘assemblages from found or inherited items wth profound associations to loved ones …’

He also acknowledged the significance of the arranging and placing process: ‘The process of arranging her materials is as significant as any resolved configuration and over the period of the show Murdoch’s work will swell and ebb within the space.’

It happens very rarely for me, so it’s lovely when someone else writes about my work – and even more so when there’s a sense that they just ‘get it’ – understand what the work is about and specifically for me, have a genuine interest in the history behind it. The Beginning of History exhibition ended in early December, 2013; this somehow though, feels like the beginning for me. It was such an amazing group show to be a part of and there’s still a lot to process, I feel.


Back with more to say it seems, already feeling that I’m reaping the benefits of a return to blogging. When a busy family life and illness conspires to keep you out of the studio, it feels good to maintain some sort of connection; it’s what I use this blog for most, I think – like a kind of hello from the sidelines.

Comments left by other artists in response to my blog mean a lot to me – often kind, considered and just plain friendly, they can act as a real source of comfort and yet simultaneously, throw up all sorts of questions and alternative ways of seeing and thinking. It’s very easy for thoughts to stagnate when working in a vacuum and I’m reminded once again of the many advantages of blogging; writing here is as much about connections and community as it is about self-promotion.

The comments left on my blog for this particular week have got me thinking about the sorting process.

Why I do it is clear. The sorting is an integral part of my practice and a necessary process to go through in order to unearth and reacquaint myself with the collected objects and assorted paraphernalia – essentially, the raw material for my work.

How I sort in the studio is another matter …

I’ve been thinking about patterns that are repeated – these intermittent periods, one of which I’m experiencing right now, when I fret about the amount of stuff I have and allow myself to feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer mass of it. I’m talking here about emotional as well as physical mass, of course and am acutely aware of the additional weight of emotional baggage stored away in a lot of the boxes – that’s the overwhelming part for me.

Sitting around worrying about all these things isn’t conducive to getting on with generating work and historically, it’s kept me away from the studio for longer periods than I’d like. Displacement, perhaps? Self-preservation, maybe? Who knows … but recognising the pattern of behaviour at least means that I know the problem isn’t insurmountable – I’ve been here before, and so am aware that the best strategy for overcoming it, is to just get myself back into the studio again – tidy it up and return it to being a space I can work in.

I embraced the chaos of it in the few weeks leading up to the Christmas – like my friend said, it felt like a ‘really alive’ space – but it got too cluttered by the end and I wasn’t able to see the woods for the trees. There’s probably a case for loosening up my control over how orderly I keep my studio space in the future but more about that another time. For now, it’s about getting rid of the worst of the mess and starting to produce work again. New year, new beginnings – I have no idea what it will bring but my hope is that I will stay curious and open to any opportunities sent my way.


I stopped writing this blog some six months ago with the intention of freeing up some time for a big ‘sort out’ in my studio. Up until this point, I’d been having conversations with other artists about the importance of archiving my collections. I’d hoped that cataloguing the collection of stuff accumulated over many years might be a solution to not feeling quite so overwhelmed by it; hoped that once the sorting and labelling had been done, I’d be able to return to my creative practice – more effectively, more efficiently – everything to hand.

In actual fact, nothing much has happened in the studio in terms of sorting stuff out – nor in terms of documenting, either. There was a certain amount of shifting around and opening up of the boxes when I needed to find things for the recent group exhibitions I was a part of, but I just haven’t been able to apply myself to the kind of proper sorting in the studio that I’d envisaged.

Retrospectively, I think it was a bit of a tall order to think that I could get so organised in such a short space of time. After all, I’m talking about a vast amount of stuff here, collected over some 20/25 years.

The collections are what provide me with the raw material for my creative work and it’s through them that I’m able to tease out the various stories from my life, ones which, for whatever reason, I feel compelled to tell. I have a good memory for what I own and what’s stored away in the boxes in the studio, but it takes time and patience to locate the required items. It’s why the idea of archiving my entire life collections (still) holds so much appeal for me; who knows, maybe one day I will find the time and motivation and it will happen.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to keep on doing what I love best – to keep making the work. I’m pleased that, despite the chaos, I was able to access enough materials in order to create new work for two group exhibitions I was a part of in the last couple of months of 2013. Being a part of the first one, The Beginning of History, was a really positive and rewarding experience for me -the Q-Art one, too, in a completely different way – and the fact that I ended the year showing alongside other really talented artists has been one of the highlights of 2013 for me. More about this another time …

I’ll be back in the studio next week and I’m feeling positive about my return, largely down to the optimistic response of an artist friend who came to see The Beginning of History exhibition in the ASC project space, attached to the studio I rent in New Cross Gate. My friend described my studio space as looking ‘really alive’ and there being a ‘real energy’ emanating from it. Crucially, she felt it had a different feel to it since her last visit.

I think what my friend saw was the effect of me loosening up my control in the studio. I’ve been too busy to keep it tidy and have actually been enjoying working in a different kind of environment – one that isn’t quite so organised and orderly.

How ‘organised’ does my studio actually have to be is a new question I’m asking myself. Who’s the organising for? And if, at the end of a working day, I’ve been feeling compelled to tidy things away, who am I tidying away for? I don’t yet know the answer to these questions, but what I do know is that while the boxes in my studio are closed and neatly stacked – closed off, effectively – there’s not a great deal of creative energy around; once they’re open and their contents exposed, however – that’s when the real work begins for me. Consequently, I’ve been feeling a lot more freed up and creatively inspired – surely a good start to 2014. Well, let’s hope …