As an artist experiencing the COVID lockdown period, I wanted to use the time wisely and I found it provided an opportunity to reflect on my past works and future directions. One piece of work I became reacquainted with was from 2012. It was some preliminary sketches for a print to accompany my installation ‘Belonging’, which was commissioned by the Walker Gallery for the 2012 Liverpool Biennial. You can see and read about the installation here http://www.patrickmurphystudio.co.uk/portfolio/belonging/
The drawings of the column/plinth are based on the columns on the facade of Walker Gallery. I loved how the birds I created juxtaposed with the very formal architectural environment of the Walker and I wanted to try and record this feeling in a simple line drawing that could be turned into a print. I sadly never fully finished this print at the time, and it’s been a regret ever since. So, the past few weeks have been a perfect time to revisit those drawings and finish them as I had intended to.
For the installation, I created two ‘attitudes’ (positions) of birds – one feeding, the other looking up. The print reflects this combination, as the pigeons look down on visitors to the gallery. The print provides a synthesis of the original 205 bird installation.
I also wanted to celebrate the colours used in the original Belonging installation so I have created this print edition in 16 colour variations.
Belonging responded to the 2012 Liverpool Biennial’s theme of ‘The Unexpected Guest’. I chose the symbol of the pigeon to represent this theme, being a bird that is banished from city centres and branded a nuisance. Working with the team at the Walker Art Gallery we formulated a plan to place pigeon artworks on the outside and inside of the building. ‘Belonging’ elevated the very familiar site of pigeons from their everyday urban context. Here, they were welcomed, colourful visitors given sanctuary during the Biennial. The installation evoked questions about ownership and feelings of being accepted or marginalised. Anthropomorphised, the pigeons can be seen to represent any group that struggles to find a natural home or sense of acceptance in a physical or geographical space. They highlight the very human struggle in finding acceptance or a natural sense of place, whether this be an intellectual or a physical/geographical homeland.
The Walker Art Gallery is an art gallery in Liverpool, UK. It is part of National Museums Liverpool. It opened in 1877 and houses one of the largest art collections in England outside London.
The Liverpool Biennial is the largest international contemporary art festival in the UK. For ten weeks every two years the city of Liverpool is host to an extraordinary range of artworks, projects and a dynamic programme of events.