Orlagh Murphy seems to be perpetually caught in a somewhat terrifying but ethereal daymare. She invokes a sense of precise chaos. She plays with the balance between innocence and malice.
With too much structure to be abstract and too little obedience to be by the books, it’s hard to exactly determine what message Murphy is trying to convey. It’s also a little difficult to determine the origin of that message.
We thought; ‘Maybe she’s saying this?’, ‘Maybe she’s saying that?’, ‘Maybe she isn’t trying to say anything at all?’ Her dazzling aesthetics spin you in circles.
Thankfully, we caught up with Murphy after her return from Dublin and the Irish illustrator was more than happy to do away with the maybe’s by answering a few of our usual questions.
What is the root of your inspiration?
“I take inspiration from many sources. I compile scrapbooks, which contain everything from old photographs to handwriting samples to transcribed anecdotes. The ideas and stories that appear in my work are often grown from these seeds.
Natural history. Science. Portraits. Proverbs. Limbs.”
But it is in her personal work, like Counting Sheep and the individual pieces shown here, where she truly strives and lets her imagination take the reigns.
Chilling pieces like “Dodo Love” have a soft, mournful quality but still wield a haunting concept. We started out viewing Murphy’s work as an enigma then after a third and fourth look — and more than enough help from the artist herself — her language become lucid and coherent.