It’s quieter in my neighbourhood at present – lots of people off on their family holidays – and the recent heat wave means that the usual frenetic pace of London life has slowed down, at least a little. I’m in a state of in-between as far as work is concerned, having just finished exhibiting my work in a lovely group exhibition, ‘Push The Boat Out.’ The show was curated by Harry Pye and James F Johnston, with Amelie Lindsay and included some fantastic work of artists I admire and respect. The entire start to finish experience was really positive and the exhibition definitely goes down in my book as a special one to be a part of. It’s over now, but here are details about the ‘Push The Boat Out’ show via Harry Pye’s brilliant Rebel magazine:


I’m also sharing a short film made by Corey Samuel which for me, perfectly captures the overall energy and vibrancy of the show and the artists in it. Multi-talented co-curator James F Johnston’s musical contribution helps push the boat out even further – all very exciting! See it for yourself here:


Meantime, it’s back to the studio and to thinking about future work and all that that involves. A new challenge presented itself just before the ‘Push The Boat Out’ show began, which will inevitably affect the way my work goes over the next few weeks and months …

My friend has asked me to move my stuff out of her garage as she now requires the space; it’s looking likely that I will have to move out by mid November. I’m really grateful for the space she’s given me ever since we were given notice to quit the ASC studios in New Cross some 3/4 years ago, but all good things come to an end.

And so, I’m faced with familiar feelings – slightly unsettled and anxious, and acutely aware that a move for me is no small task. Far from ignoring it, I have to get to grips again with the reality of the huge mass of stuff I own which, on the last count, consisted of over 100 filled x30 litre boxes. There are also bits and pieces of furniture to think about – the 10×10 cabinet, a dressing table, my Nana’s display cabinet, various bird cages I’ve collected, for example – plus, of course, the inevitable unsold work which I’ve never quite been able to part with.

‘ … never quite been able to part with …’ is the crux of it, really and I know that I’m likely to spend time in the coming weeks fretting about the sheer volume of stuff I own. It’s that guilt thing again which so many collectors experience and will relate to – but something else has crept into the mix, I realise – that of age and ageing – which, much as I hate to admit it, means that schlepping heavy boxes and furnniture around is much more physically demanding and so, more of an issue these days.

Storage more often than not, equals money, hence the need to justify why I’m holding onto the things that take up valuable (and costly) space. If money were no object, my preferred choice would be to simply transfer the stuff from the garage to an alternative storage space. That way, I wouldn’t even have to think about the contents of the boxes and whether I need to dispose of anything.

It’s the thinking that creates the stress for me: how much do I need to re-address what I can/cannot keep? Am I in danger of having to let some things go, simply because I don’t have the space to keep them? – even having to address these issues can make me feel completely overwhelmed. And let’s not forget, while I’ve undoubtedly collected a mass of ‘fun’ daft things over the years, there are a lot of emotions associated with others stored away in the boxes – all with their own unique narrative. I’m more prepared now that the boxes are labelled, but coming across some things can still evoke powerful reactions; opening the boxes up can be akin to opening old, hurt wounds, unresolved issues – the objects acting as pertinent reminders of the passing of time – mortality and the fragility of life.

The recent invitation to take part in ‘Push The Boat Out’, plus preparing for the 10th anniversary of my 10×10 project in September has pointed to the importance of cataloguing and keeping things accessible. Searching for specific objects reminded me how glad I am that I took the time to label them and catalogue the contents of each individual box when I last moved. It was a long, laborious and boring process at the time I remember, but every minute was well spent and has meant that putting my hand on the things I need in the short term has been relatively easy. In spite of the many moves I’ve had to make over the past few years, I’m also glad that I’ve managed to retain the things I wanted to – it’s what makes up the raw material for so much of my work, after all.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to have to be giving serious consideration to where I’m going to put the bulk of stuff retrieved from the garage. A large garden shed would inevitably dominate my small family garden, but the upside of this idea is already starting to outweigh the down: to be completely independent of anyone, to have free storage and to have it close at hand can only be beneficial. Commercial storage comes at a price and I’m not in a position to afford it while I’m paying for a shared half of a studio – enough of a luxury as it is.

Someone I know once suggested that I photograph every single item I own before parting with them – that having images instead of the actual physical objects would be just as satisfactory. It’s not a thought I’ve dismissed out of hand, but I can’t imagine not experiencing the joy of being connected with the real thing – something to hold in my hands, gaining a real sense of what it is – what it feels like, what it really looks like, up close – how it smells, etc. But that’s a whole other blog post, I think and I have plenty to be thinking about and getting on with …


’30 pieces of silver’ revisited …



I’m delighted to say that there’s been some exciting news about my ’30 pieces of silver’ performance event. The owner of the genuine piece of silver, one of the 30 pieces given away on February 22nd at the opening night of the ‘In The Future’ exhibition, has been found! To put it into context, this is what I wrote in a blog post at the start of March:


The theme of value and worth is very much at the core of my work, and the idea behind ’30 pieces of silver’ was to explore that concept in a real life situation. I therefore used part of the budget I was given to buy an actual, genuine piece of silver. It was an antique 1815 hallmarked vinaigrette (a sort of miniature pomander, which used to be filled with smelling salts or perfume, so that it could be brought out and sniffed when confronted with foul odours).

It excited me to see it nestled amongst the other items on the salver, unidentifiable to the untrained eye as something ‘worth’ infinitely more than any of the other 29 objects. Would people recognise it for what it was? Would it be the first item chosen? And if so, would it be because of its monetary value, rather than its aesthetic or emotional appeal? Or would it be taken by someone who had no idea of its value and simply liked the look of it?


Alongside the curator of the show, Rosalind Davis, I had been putting the word out in an effort to track down whoever it was that chose the antique vinaigrette; last week I finally found her! I met artist Alison Turnbull  (a participating artist in the ‘In The Future’ show) for the first time last week at a gathering at the Collyer Bristow Gallery. She told me how she’d been meaning to get in touch to say that it was her who took the vinaigrette – and that ‘liking the look of it’ was exactly the reason she chose it. Alison told me that she was attracted to it as ‘a small container’ and that its compactness appealed to her.


I’m delighted that the piece was chosen by someone who values it as an object of beauty, rather than for its financial worth – or even by someone who failed to appreciate it at all (as could have happened) and simply discarded it as rubbish. That scenario was a risk I was prepared to take; there’s always an element of risk associated with participatory work.


Incidentally, some people have asked how the people who got the opportunity to select something from the silver salver were chosen. The answer is that it was completely random. I hired actor, James Haslam, to distribute the silver: his remit was simply to approach people on an ad hoc basis, remove the lid of the salver and ask them: ‘would you care for a piece of silver?’


It was important to me that the person distributing the silver was unaware of who anyone was in the Gallery on that particular night. I didn’t want any favouritism being shown! And to make sure that the whole thing was completely above board, I didn’t even tell James that one of the pieces amid the 30 was actually a real, genuine piece of silver. The only person I let in on the secret was the curator, Rosalind Davis, as part of my initial proposal for the event – although I didn’t even tell her which piece was the genuine one!


James didn’t engage with the audience other than to ask them if they would like to select an object. His presence caused a bit of a stir: ‘What’s with this guy?’ somebody asked me, before approaching James himself to see what was going on. Other people gravitated towards James and hung around him in the hope that they might get a chance to take part, while others took their chance to help themselves to a piece while James was in the process of offering the salver to someone else.


There was a massive gathering of some 400 plus people on the opening night and navigating his way through a vast crowd was no easy task. James’ vast experience as an actor, however – plus many years of dealing with a diverse, general public, meant he did an excellent job.


Unsurprisingly, trying to locate 30 pieces of silver distributed among over 400 people also proved challenging. But there’s been a steady trickle of responses from people (and some lovely images sent in of some of the silver objects in situ in their new homes) since February 22nd when Rosalind and I started putting out calls, asking people to let us know if they’d taken a piece of silver away. with them on the opening night. To locate the owner of the vinaigrette feels like the icing on the cake!


Thanks once again to everyone who participated in ’30 pieces of silver’ – to James who served the silver with such grace & style, to those who sent images of their claimed silver in novel, in situ places – to the curator, Rosalind Davis for her support & enthusiasm for the idea and of course, to the Collyer Bristow Gallery itself whose financial support enabled me to create a completely new piece of work.

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‘No Place Like Home’  – as part of the ‘New Narratives’ show at hARTslane New Cross Gate, London

I can never take it for granted, but each time I’ve presented a new piece of work which depends on people participating, they’ve done so in positive and thoughtful ways. ‘No Place Like Home’ is a case in point.

I asked people to respond to a ‘tower block’, uninhabited and stuffed full of fake money, representative of the many that have started to saturate areas like New Cross and Deptford. I invited people to take away the money and bring back something in exchange. The aim was to make this tower block a real home; strip it of its financial assets and transform it into an object of beauty, with heart and soul at its core. I hoped that people would fill it with things that they felt make a home a real home, rather than it being yet another investment unit.

Sure enough, by the time the exhibition was over, plenty of fake money had been taken and more than enough objects had been left behind to transform the tower block into something more homely.

Many of those visiting the show at hARTslane told me the stories associated with the objects they left behind. Their stories added to the feeling of creating homes as real homes; objects and the conversations around them put the humanity back, transforming the soulless cash cubicles into places of warmth, with heart, soul and conversations at their core. It was interesting to hear a fellow artist at the artists’ talk, speak about the cubicles of the CD rack as ‘rooms – giving us insight into the lives of those who resided in them.’

Pets clearly had strong associations with home, as several items such as photos of dogs and cats as well as dog toys, bones and cat biscuits were left behind. And there was an emotional parting with a collar which had belonged to a recently deceased beloved pet dog. Other objects left in the tower block spoke for themselves: there was an emphasis on home as a place of peace, rest and respite in the things that were left: food items, candles, beautiful fabrics, plants & flowers, herbs & spices – the aesthetic, comforting aspects of home represented in them. There were also items making references to children, filling the homes with love and laughter, hope and optimism, as one person told me.

At the end of the day, what is left becomes less important than why something is left; the collective aim to change something is what matters most.

‘New Narratives’ was a real joy to be a part of; hARTslane’s premise behind the subject ‘Dear London’ resonates with me and the ever increasing lack of affordable social housing is a subject I care passionately about. There was a sense of compassion and humanity amid the artists, designers and architects involved in the show, all of them acutely aware of current social problems and all doing their best, not simply for themselves, but for the local area and its residents. I learned a lot about creative activities going on in my close neighbourhood during the course of the show – secret, hidden hubs of creativity – all doing remarkable work for the benefit of communities at large.

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‘New Narratives’ is the latest show to open at hARTslane, New Cross, London and the exhibition is a part of the hARTslane collective’s ‘Dear London’ project. Given my personal interest in the decline of affordable social housing, I was especially pleased to be asked to participate.

‘New Narratives’ is a group show which includes the work of artists, designers and architects. I felt inspired by the aims and objectives of the curators in tackling a highly pertinent social and political issue, particularly in light of the ever increasing homelessness crisis in the UK at large. A quote by architect Oliver Wainwright included in hARTslane’s press release really caught my eye:

‘Places are becoming ever meaner and more divided, as public assets are relentlessly sold off, entire council estates flattened to make room for silos of luxury safe-deposit boxes in the sky. We are replacing homes with investment units, to be sold overseas and never inhabited, substituting community for vacancy. The more we build, the more our cities are emptied, producing dead swathes of zombie town where the lights might never even be switched on.’

The issue of empty, forgotten buildings is one that stares me in the face nearly everyday en route from home to my studio in SE London. The area is becoming saturated with new-build ‘luxury living units’ and ‘high spec living quarters’ – large, imposing tower blocks developed purely for financial investment, with no consideration for the impact on local residents. Conversations among local people frequently revolve around how hemmed in they’re starting to feel, how frustrated they are about the many empty properties surrounding them and how sad they feel about the ongoing breakdown of communities – generations of families being priced out of the area.


I created ‘No Place Like Home’ in response to the premise of the show:




Take away the money and turn this tower block into a home!


‘high spec living quarters’

‘excellent rental yields’

‘the Build to Rent Revolution’ …

… these are just a few phrases taken from various magazines promoting new-build properties in the SE London area. Everything relates to money – the property’s value, rental yield, price growth prediction; there isn’t a single mention of these properties in terms of ‘home.’

Social housing has become increasingly scarce as councils and housing associations sell off their properties to private investors. Properties are left to become dilapidated and new build ‘luxury living units’ spring up in their place, many of them completely out of bounds financially to the people who have lived within tight-knit communities for generations. As they become forced out, communities become permanently damaged and eroded. It’s time to take matters into our own hands and create a new narrative around what a home should be…

This tower block, uninhabited and stuffed full of fake money, is representative of the many that have started to saturate our local area. They’re sterile, soulless and are invariably left empty, seen by their absentee owners as nothing more than investment opportunities to increase their wealth. And even if any attempt is made to rent them, very few are able to afford the extortionate rents requested.

In order to put back some of the warmth and humanity that existed before the bulldozers waded in, I’m asking you to take away the money and bring back something in exchange; make this tower block a real homestrip it of its financial assets and transform it into an object of beauty, with heart and soul at its core; fill it with love, warmth, messages of hope, photographs, flowers – anything that represents what you think makes a home a real home, rather than yet another investment unit.

You’re welcome to leave your items and take some of the money away whenever you like. Or if you prefer, you can make your exchange on Wednesday March 21st when there will be an artists talk at hARTslane from 6-9pm.

Kate Murdoch, March 2018





PV | Thursday 8th of March , 6-9pm
Exhibition Open | 9-18 March 2018, Friday-Sunday, 2-6pm
Artists talk & performance | Wednesday 21st of March, 6-9pm

Rachael Bowyer | Kevin Brennan | Cedric Christie, Benedict Philpott, Byony Bridge (flute) & Peter Paul Nash | Guy Forrester & Sven Mündner | Nayan Kulkarni | Maria Lothe | Pat Meagher | Louise Melchior, Carolyn Clewer, Tiphaine de Lussy | Kate Murdoch | Marta Nowicka & Voytek Ketz | Ethan Pettit | Fred Rigby | Margit Sbicca Mulder | Sigrun Sverrisdottir
Lucy Tauber | Jonathan Tuckey | Anna Versteeg & Naomi Shaw

As part of ROOM 6.3 / Dear London (November 2017-May 2018), hARTslane is presenting New Narratives, where we celebrate the empty, forgotten buildings in London and imagine a new use for them, a new relation between people and space, where humanity is at heart.
The show brings together architects, designers and artists who are invited to present projects and ideas where empty unusual spaces are reconfigured and used for social rather than economic benefit.


30 pieces of silver


It’s now a week since the opening night of ‘In The Future’ at the Collyer Bristow Gallery in Holborn, London. The show’s title was taken from a David Byrne song of the same name and I was asked to respond to a line from it:

In the future all material items will be free.’

The show’s curator, Rosalind Davis, also informed me that it was the Gallery’s silver anniversary. Being aware of interactive events I’ve created in the past, when I’ve either given away small objects or put them up for exchange, Rosalind asked me if I might be able to come up with an idea to acknowledge Collyer Bristow’s amazing 25 year run of supporting artists.


My thoughts quickly turned to what I’d be happy to give away for free, as well as how to introduce the silver theme. The 30 pieces of silver associated with the Biblical story of Judas Iscariot came to mind pretty quickly and is how I came to present 30 silver objects, laid out on a silver salver.


On the opening night, I asked actor James Haslam to give them away by approaching people who were there and asking them to choose one. I referred to the 30 objects as ‘silver’ right from the start – but of course (as I’m sure most people suspected) they weren’t real silver. They were actually a mixture of 50p items from charity shops, Christmas cracker prizes & other bits and pieces I’ve gathered over the years – some sprayed with silver paint, all looking like silver and masquerading as the real thing. But there was a twist …


The original 30 pieces of silver before being given away, February 2018


The theme of value and worth is very much at the core of my work, and the idea behind ’30 pieces of silver’ was to explore that concept in a real life situation. I therefore used part of the budget I was given to buy an actual, genuine piece of silver. It was an antique 1815 hallmarked vinaigrette (a sort of miniature pomander, which used to be filled with smelling salts or perfume, so that it could be brought out and sniffed when confronted with foul odours).


It excited me to see it nestled amongst the other items on the salver, unidentifiable to the untrained eye as something ‘worth’ infinitely more than any of the other 29 objects. Would people recognise it for what it was? Would it be the first item chosen? And if so, would it be because of its monetary value, rather than its aesthetic or emotional appeal? Or would it be taken by someone who had no idea of its value and simply liked the look of it?


After all, is a real piece of silver ‘worth’ any more than a small sparkly deer, a 1998 Esso football coin or a spray painted pig? And is it inevitable that when people find out that they could have taken a genuine ‘valuable’ piece of silver, they will regret choosing the item they did? Will the silver pig, once it’s identified as mere plastic sprayed in silver paint, appeal less when it becomes clear it’s not real silver? Or will the person who selected it still be happy, as they took the object that was worth most to them in terms of aesthetic appeal?


These are just some of the many questions I’ve been wondering about since last Thursday evening. I have yet to discover who took the antique vinaigrette box and why – but I do know that it wasn’t the first item to go, and neither was it the last. If you were the person who chose it, I’d love to hear from you. And I’d also love to hear from anyone else who took one of the objects. Was there a reason for taking the thing that you took? Do you now wish you’d taken the vinaigrette box? Do get in touch!


The genuine piece of antique hallmarked silver, a vinaigrette dated 1815, February 2018


In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the event – especially those of you who have already been in touch with your stories and photos of the objects in their new homes! And I’d especially like to thank James Haslam who distributed the silver so beautifully – a pretty challenging mission considering that there were over 400 visitors attending the opening night.


And of course, last but by no means least, a very special thank you must go to both Rosalind Davis and all those involved in the Collyer Bristow Gallery itself. Rosalind has created and curated an excellent exhibition in ‘In The Future’ and I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to show my work alongside a group of hugely talented artists. In addition, the fantastic financial support of the Collyer Bristow Gallery enabled me to create a completely new piece of work and I’m very grateful to them for this. As many of us know, it’s so often lack of funding that prevents us from being able to realise particular pieces of work – and indeed, in the long term, reach our full potential as artists, even. I’m  grateful to the Gallery for their financial support, as well as for being so accommodating in helping the ’30 pieces of silver’ performance go ahead on the opening night. It feels sweetly ironic that, through creating a piece of work which essentially explores the concept of value and worth, I should find myself working with a curator and a Gallery who both clearly have the interest of artists at heart and demonstrate through the work they do, how much they truly value them.


‘In The Future’ continues at the Collyer Bristow Gallery until mid June. Twenty artists were invited to be in the exhibition and it’s a great line-up with some very interesting, diverse work on show. All details re the best times to visit are in the link below, followed by a link to the press release and information on all the artists involved in the show.



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