• ARCHIVING WOMANIFESTO: An International Art Exchange, 1990s - Present.

    19 October to 9 November 2019

Wendy Murray & Friends, Sydney — We Need To Talk! — 7 February to 23 March 2019

Sydney — We Need to Talk!
Situations & Conversations
Wendy Murray & Friends

Opening Thursday 7 February at 6pm: Talk by Kurt Iveson, urban geographer

Exhibition 7 February to 23 March 2019
Saturday 9 February: Sydney East Art Walk, 12 to 4pm

In the battle to save Sydney’s soul Wendy Murray’s posters act as field markers of the often invisible edges of the privatisation of public life: displacement, exclusion and homogeneity. She contributes to the growing field of contemporary art practice that fights against the erosion of civil and human rights — actions that Istanbul Biennial curator Hanru Hou called ‘Not Only Possible, But Also Necessary: Optimism in the Age of Global War’ (2007). The exhibition’s stark signature print Sydney — We Need to Talk! says it all: people move up and down a fragile network of staircases threatened by a Jurassic background of building cranes.

In 2018 Murray was inaugural Printer in Residence at Fisher Library, University of Sydney, an eight-week residency where she published Sydney We Need to Talk! (a 56 page collection of short interventions and 8 collaborative essays about the politics of urbanisation with activist staff) and began the works now on exhibition.

The paradox of public spaces is that they are now the 'wrong places' (Doherty, 2015) as they lie beyond the narrative structure and prompts of capital. The first world city works to eliminate wrong places — the places where we can relax, look at trees and gardens, meet and gather. The focus is on activating’ our sense of consumer-self, reflecting back a picture of a non-threatening, grounded identity — a world of shopping malls and official public and entertainment precincts with mirrored walls where reflections can be admired.

A language to sell alienation has been honed. 'Activating' means enclosing large areas of grand public spaces like Sydney Botanic Gardens, the Domain, Centennial Park and harbour foreshores. Fencing them off for temporary commercial events is called 'monetising public space'. In November 2017 former prime minister Paul Keating confronted the activist band Midnight Oil over their concert in the Domain which fenced off a large area for 16 days, profiting from Sydney’s central piece of public land. Beside Centennial Park — part of an almost 200 year old public reserve — a board of well-connected men have appoval to spend $2.2 billion knocking down and re-building 20 year-old Sydney Stadiums. Next door on the site of the former Agricultural Showgrounds (now an Entertainment Quarter) developers are planning residential towers.

To tell the story of growing social and economic imbalances Murray deploys the simple tools of the itinerant artist: hand-cut stencils or seriography and craft skills of Letraset and typography. Arcane and obsolete but when applied to complex issues Murray's dramatically graphic works command attention. Her 'Daily Drawings' focus on the slow consolidations that transform heritage areas — along the Kings Cross / Darlinghurst ridge and Woolloomooloo Bay for example — into development sites. These inner-city main streets form networks whose dense mosaics contain the last pockets of affordable housing and public housing. Sydney is a closed kingdom of fast-track deals and ‘state secret’ building and re-building. Only the roar of bulldozers or dumpster trucks at 4am alerts residents and small business.

Wendy Murray's Equality poster set (4 works, 2017) made with urban geographer Kurt Iveson pays homage to Australia’s long-running civil rights and Green Ban movements and Australia’s tradition of collective poster-making and citizen action. ‘Never give up’ says the heroine of another work. The list of re/developments is as long as the Green Bans sites over 4 decades ago (there were about 54): on the city’s Westside  there is Darling Harbour, Sydney Fish Markets and the Powerhouse Museum and its collection of a world-renowned Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences is being relocated to sell the land to developers.

Other crimes against the environment include: changing Crown land ownership to make it easier to sell off, not protect; ripping up more than 100 historic fig trees along Anzac Parade;cutting down 800 trees for the Sydney's useless Light Rail and wanting to put a new motorway through the Royal National Park. This week NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the creation of a Minister for Public Spaces. In Sydney no blade of grass or park is safe. The sacred water of our might Murray-Darling River system too is condemned by greed .

Artists, filmmakers and  writers have always documented the extent and effects of ‘temporary enclosures’ and brutal displacements of populations such as residents of Millers Point and Sirius in the Rocks and Redfern-Waterloo in the South with Woolloomooloo now in the gun. Parody and humour, discrete interventions in the margins of public spaces with posters and dodgers, heart-wrenching films, might not save the day but they witness injustice and the cynicism of developers arguing for ‘public good’ or politicians wringing their hands.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Sydney — We Need To Talk, 2018. Photo silversalt photography

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Untitled, drawing, 2018.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Wonderwall 1, 2019. Screen print on card, 55 x 35cm

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Wonderwall 2, 2019. Screen print on card, 55 x 35cm

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Drive them out, 2019. Screen print on card, Edition 10

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Drive them out, too, 2019. Screen print on card, Edition 10

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Dam Empty (Dam Empty), aerosol and acrylic screen print on 90gsm litho, 75 x 49 cm. Edition 25

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

(Top) Wendy Murray, Dam Empty (Oh my Darling), 2015. aerosol and acrylic screen print on 90gsm litho, 49 x 75 cm. Edition 25
(Bottom) Wendy Murray, Dam Empty (Our Fair Share), 2015. aerosol and acrylic screen print on 90gsm litho, 49 x 75 cm. Edition 25

About Wendy Murray

Wendy Murrary, Artist. The Cross Art ProjectsWendy J. Murray (b. New Zealand) is a Sydney-based artist and arts educator and has participated in many socially engaged public art projects and residencies. Murray received her BDes at Massey University (NZ) and her MFA at National Art School (AUS).

In 2018 Murray was inaugural Printer in Residence at Fisher Library, University of Sydney, an eight-week residency where she published Sydney We Need to Talk! (a 56 page collection of short interventions and 8 collaborative essays about the politics of urbanisation with activist staff) and began the works now on exhibition.

Murray has presented at numerous events including Picturing Politics (2016) at the Australian National University, 7th National Print Symposium, National Gallery of Australia and IMPACT7 International Print Conference. Her previous exhibition at The Cross Art Projects (1917) was developed in association with the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) in California. See www.politicalgraphics.org/

Murray has won several grants that recognise her socially engaged approach including the 2014 Hobsons Bay Mayoral Fund (for a project for at risk youth), Australian Print Council 2014 commission print award and Copyright Agency Career Fund to travel to Minnesota to undertake two specialized programs with two commercial screen print studios. Her project ‘Behind this smile’ was a shortlisted finalist for the 2015 ’Racism It Stops With Me’ Human Rights Award. In 2016 she received a grant from the City of St Paul to support an international residency at Hamilton Ink Spot, Minnesota USA. In 2017 Wendy completed a research residency at the Centre for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles and has co-curated the 2018 Casual Powerhouse exhibition ‘Fresh Blood: Redback Graphix and its Aftermath’ with Dr Stuart Bailey.

Image: Artist Wendy Murray with artist and printer Mike Powe looking on at The International Printing Museum, CA, 2018  Photo: Louise Hyatt

Murray has lectured at Sydney College of the Arts and National Art School. She also undertakes community workshops to establish crossovers and new relationships between community and institutions: for example the Mesh Mash outreach program in western Melbourne and residencies at the Lake Macquarie City Gallery and The Art Vault. Her curatorial projects include: MAY’S Lane Street Art project (co-ordinator 2008-2012).

Sydney, Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects

Sydney – We Need to Talk! Wendy Murray + Friends at The Cross Art Projects, 2019

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Millers Point, 2018, 2 colour screen print on 340 GSM White Knight Vellum, 56 x 35 cm. Ed of 10. Available: 6.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Dream of Living Different, 2018, 3 colour screen print on 340 GSM White Knight Vellum, 56 x 35 cm. Ed of 10. Available: Nil.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Rough Ride 2018, 2 colour screen print on 340 GSM White Knight Vellum, 56 x 35 cm. Ed of 10. Available: 1.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

 Wendy Murray and Dewey Tafoya (L.A. / USA), Working Poor, 2018-2019, 4 colour screen print on 100gsm litho. 120 x 70 cm. Ed of 8. Available: 8.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Top: Wendy Murray and Jake Holmes (ADL), Negative Gearing, 2017, 3 colour screen print on card from Letraset stencils, 65 x 45 cm. Ed of 22. Available: 10. Below: Wendy Murray and Jake Holmes (ADL), Wanna Go Back to My Place?, 2017 , 3 colour screen print on card from Letraset stencils, 65 x 46 cm. Ed of 22. Available: 10.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Sydney – We Need to Talk! Publication. In Situ.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Take Your City Back!, 2018, 2 colour screenprint on 90gsm litho, 56 c 36 cm. Ed of 2. Available: 1.

Sydney, Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects

Wendy Murray, Dream of Living Different, 2018,  colour screen print on 340 GSM White Knight Vellum, 56 x 35 cm. Ed of 10. Available: Nil.

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Left: Wendy Murray, Dam Empty (Oh my Darling), 2015. aerosol and acrylic screen print on 90gsm litho, 49 x 75 cm. Edition 25. Centre: Wendy Murray, Dam Empty (Dam Empty), aerosol and acrylic screen print on 90gsm litho, 75 x 49 cm. Edition 25. Right: Wendy Murray, Dam Empty (Our Fair Share), 2015. aerosol and acrylic screen print on 90gsm litho, 49 x 75 cm. Edition 25

Sydney, Artwork at The Cross Art Projects

Sydney – We Need to Talk!, 2019.


Bibliography

Links

Wendy Murray http://www.wendymurray.com.au/

Cities and Citizenship by Kurt Iveson. At http://citiesandcitizenship.blogspot.com.au/

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/drawingacrowd/

Publications by Wendy Murray

Sydney – We Need to Talk!, 2018. limited edition publication, published by Wendy Murray and collaborators whilst PIR at the University of Sydney Library, 20 July - 21 September 2018. Sold out. Click to download the full PDF here.

Night & Day. A Series of Hill End Daily drawings, to accompany exhibition at Bathurst Region Art Gallery, 2019.

The DAILY Drawing Inspiration, Wendy Murray 2010-2017 selected Daily drawings, 2017.

Pull Your Punches, Wendy Murray 2010-2017 selected prints & drawings, 2017.

Publications on Wendy Murray

Wendy Murray on political posters and unleashing collective power in Fresh Blood 
by Rebecca Shanahan, Art Guide Australia, January 2018

Artist as Conduit by Antonia Aitken, IMPRINT Magazine ,2015, v 50, no 2.

Mini Graff, Art up for Grabs, IMPRINT Magazine, v47, no 1.

Publications, exhibition catalogues

Jaklyn Babington ed., Space Invaders: Australian Street / Stencils / Posters / Pasteups / Zines / Stickers, National Gallery of Australia, 2010.

Kon Gouriotis, curator, ‘Street Level' in Its our thing (2016) exhibition catalogue, Blacktown Art Centre.

Kurt Iveson, ‘Making a better city Specifically through better graffiti’ [mentions Mini Graff] in May Lane Street Art Project, exhibition catalogue, 2010.

Kurt Iveson, Opening Talk – ‘A Letter to Sydney’, 7 February 2019 > Download as pdf

Australian Contemporary Political Posters

Louise Mayhew, Jill Posters Will Be Prosecuted: Australia’s women-only print collectives from the 1970s and 1980s. > View Online / Download

Jacqueline Millner, ‘Decentralising Cultural Capital: Recent Public Initiatives in Sydney’, Contemporary Art+Culture Broadsheet, 40.2, 2001, pp 140-141. (Includes discussion on Mini Graff and Jason Wing.) > Download pdf

Jacqueline Millner, Visual Poetics: the critical impulse in street art from Paris to Melbourne’, The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Vol 4 No 3, 2009, 303-320, 2009.

Michael Organ's Research Blog at http://www.uow.edu.au/~morgan/

International Contemporary Political Posters

Feminae, Typographic Voices of Women, by Women and exhibition / catalogue, Hoffmitz Milken Centre for Typography and Centre for the Study of Political Graphics, at HMCT South Campus Gallery, Pasedena, California.

Related — Friends

Murray Darling Royal Commission: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/31/murray-darling-basin-royal-commission-report-finds-gross-maladministration