Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Always Luccon on the bright side of life...

... fine, that rather weak pun may not be the most appropriate title for a blog about a rather high end and gorgeous material, but I couldn't resist.

'Luccon' concrete is a beautiful material manufactured in Austria but used in projects around the world, from Singapore to Australia.  It has all of the structural strength of a typical concrete, but with the added feature of translucency.  This creates some genuinely stunning shapes and the potential for some really interesting sculptural furniture.
I am currently working on a project utilizing this material and my head is spinning with the possibilities.  Integrated seating seems a good fit, but this could equally be an interior wall, kitchen counter, wall art, etc.

People's interaction with walls built in Luccon is a really fun part of any installation; the novelty of casting shadows through solid walls turns erstwhile mature and sensible types into children.
'Tron' anyone?

You can see examples of this here:


Great for style, terrible for hide & seek.


It’s made by layering concrete and fiber optics in such a way to allow light to pass.  Very clever stuff. 

I love the patterns carved into the surface of the concrete, the vibrancy of the light paths and erratic colours.  I'll keep you posted re; the design as it progresses, in the meantime enjoy these shots of previous applications.

What do you think? Love it? Hate it?  I always love to hear 1st impressions. 

Festive cheers to you all,

Marshall Murray

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Making connections.

"We're born alone, we live alone and we die alone.  Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for a moment that we're not alone"
- Orson Welles

Our planet is getting smaller.  

The ease with which we can visit international friends or family, or make use of a world of incredible ways with which to communicate, can make us at times complacent about the threat of disconnection.  Social media has exploded onto the public consciousness, allowing us to honestly claim a network of hundreds, perhaps thousands of friends.  Yet loneliness appears to be rising almost as steadily as our proximity to our neighbours shrinks.  How is it that as we live closer together we are pulled apart?

Julian Wild's 'Morpheme'
 A study in 2009 by the BBC looking at life in the UK attempted to create a loneliness index to chart social fragmentation, to see where the highest concentration of people that felt drastically disconnected from their community lived.  Data was driven from census information taken in 1971 and 2001, the study then ranked places using a formula based on the proportion of people in an area who are single, those who live alone, the numbers in private rented accommodation and those who have lived there for less than a year.  The higher the proportion of people in those categories, the less rooted the community, according to social scientists. They refer to it as the level of "anomie" or the "feeling of not belonging". 

Two findings are immediately apparent: The weakest communities in 1971 were significantly stronger than any community thirty years later.  Cities appear to create the least cohesive communities.

This trend has caused a reaction in a number of artists to try and use art to both raise awareness of this increasingly modern phenomenon and to provoke a reaction, to use their work to inspire retaliation.

Julian Wild is a new addition to our stable of artists, his work explores this principle of our connection to those around us.  His 2009 project "Making a Connection" created vast communal pieces of art using everyday, low cost materials.  Hundreds of people came together in venues across the UK to build undirected structures, free flowing and unbounded.  300 metres of plumber's pipe was assembled and then collapsed by an eclectic mix of all sections of society, the creation process as much of the artwork as the piece.

"Making a Connection", Tabernacle 2009

The work creates relationships; between the piece and the space, contributors and artist, rough materials and high aesthetic.  Taking something as inexpensive, overlooked and commonplace as plumber's piping and using it to facilitate meaningful art is a concept that I love.

"Making a Connection", Bankside 2009

This theme of interaction between objects continues throughout Julian's work.  Small pieces of granular materials are fused together to create a line of work he titled 'Systems'.  Conjuring images of machinery and function, this description perfectly captures the industrial feel of modern life that has  led to our increasing sense of ennui and disconnection.

"System 1"
I love his work, the lines and patterns that make up his pieces turn a wonderfully conceived idea into art that is stunning on an aesthetic basis alone.  I find that I can stare at these indefinitely, seeing something new every time as my brain scans for imposed visual meaning, a modern cloud-gazing.

Both Julian and I are interested in taking the industrial and marrying it with the organic.  We are fortunate to represent Julian at our upcoming sculpture garden (launching in Spring 2013, see website for detail), placing these pieces in quintessentially British countryside will be a wonderful juxtaposition.
"System 3"
 We shall also be running a sister project to the "Making  a Connection", creating vast and snaking structures within woodlands, open ground, through collapsed buildings, the opportunity is incredibly exciting and I shall keep you posted.  If you would like to get involved then do contact us to be put on the mailing list, collaborating with an artist of Julian's calibre in creating something beautiful on the grounds of a Kentish estate is a rare opportunity, one for which  cannot wait.

Thanks for reading and remember, if the theme of loneliness rings true with you then simply remember the words of D.H Lawrence:

"Perhaps only those people who are capable of real togetherness have that look of being alone in the world"


Marshall Murray

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Marshall Murray on Grand Designs

Awesome is loud but awe is quiet.
                                             - Kevin McCloud

Like anyone, I suppose, there are days (usually on weekends or very late at night) when I sit at my desk and wonder if the juice is worth the squeeze? 

Other days I really love my job. 

Grand Designs is one of my absolute favourite shows.  Like many others I find it fascinating to watch the human drama of couples struggling against the elements, the budget,  rising stress levels and the thousands of design decisions with no 'right answer' is great TV.  It also combines the joy of peeking over your neighbour's fence, snooping around someone else's house and critiquing other people's aesthetic choices.
The garden viewed from the living room

That I find these past times so fascinating perhaps explains why I don't get invited to many dinner parties?  Hmmmm. 

We were approached by the very talented garden designer Ana Mari Bull (www.anamaribull.com) to provide artwork for her design (below) that had been chosen by a charming couple who were in the latter stages of building their dream home.

A view from the orchard toward the hous
The plot is an atypical shape, over 100m long but only around 8m wide.  Ana's design turned this problem into an opportunity by building a space made up of several garden rooms, delineated with sharp geometric forms in soft and hard landscaping.  

From a partitioning wall with a rectangular aperture, to clipped box hedging and squared-off seating, the lines of the garden mirror the very contemporary house.  

Peter Brooke-Ball
Molten pewter  'bleeding'
The front end of the plot was planted to resemble an orchard/ woodland, the main terrace closest to the house a more ordered and hard landscaped area with chimney and formal seating.  This worked very well for sculpture as it gave areas of the garden the feel of a gallery, with the more relaxed feel of a sculpture garden thrown in for good measure.

The tones of the house are restricted to two two dominant colours; the cool grey of the architectural frames and a pale cream render.  I used these to inform the curation process, selecting a beautiful marble and pewter piece by Peter Brooke-Ball, a simple slate and steel circle by Tom Stogdon and a series of playful wire sculptures by Rachel Ducker.  Rachel's sense of movement and lightness, wind-blown hair and semi-opacity, worked well with the open plan and airy property.

Martin Cook
In the orchard section I went for a simple oak bench and slate sun dial, gorgeously engraved by Martin Cook in his nearby Oxfordshire studio.  His work graces the British Library, 'Little Sparta'   (Ian Hamilton-Finlay's masterpiece) and he recently sold work to no less than our beloved Queen.

The sun dial
The clients have built a home that worships the plot on which it sits.  The open expanse of the the Thames is breathtaking and they therefore chose to keep the deck simple and unobstructed; a glass wall of the balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows brings the water into the kitchen. 

Below the balcony sits a hidden jetty with an old wooden rowing boat, itself a beautiful piece of sculpture when set against the very modern house.  To be able to escape onto the water at a moment's notice must be a wonderfully liberating way to live

In the subterranean office space there is a curved window looking out at the waterline.  A really beautiful space. 

The clients could not have been more pleasant and accommodating, both art lovers and clearly in love with the home that they had created.  Finding art for passionate people makes the late nights and weekends all worthwhile.  Showing our art on national television, well, that's just a bonus!  
If you would like to learn more about any of the artists shown here then we are always happy to offer advice and support.

You can find more photos of these artists and artworks on our Facebook page ('like' us, share us, tweet us as per your social media and receive lots of good karma):

Marshall Murray's Facebook page

The terrace with stunning views of the Thames

Friday, 20 July 2012

RHS Tatton Gardens

Another week and another fun trip to an RHS flower show, this time up in the north on the grounds of Tatton Park.  While the weather may not have been anything to write home about, some of the gardens certainly were worth blogging about.

I made the 8 hour round trip partially to meet new designers and sculptors, but largely to witness 1st hand the gold winning medal of my good friend and outstanding designer Alan Gardener (I know, wonderfully appropriate name.  Thank goodness his surname wasn't 'Murderer').  His garden, inspired by and representative of an orchestra pit, did not disappoint.

Tall spires of tubing exploding out from a sloped bed of vibrant colour, as the wind passes over the top the varying heights play a gorgeous melody, in tune with the gentle undulations of the grass planting.  Squint your eyes and the sections of the orchestra are laid out in colour; the large base drums of the box balls, the delicate flowers of the string section and the high notes of the woodwind filling in the spaces.  I love Ipe (sometime known as Brazillian Walnut) as a wood, the simple colour of the conductor's podium was a great foil to the colours of the planting.  I thought that this was a wonderful interpretation of the brief and thoroughly deserved the gold.

This garden showcased Alan's playful sense of humour as well as his adoration and expert knowledge of plants while, at the same time, was confident in its simplicity and kept to a limited palette of foliage and textures.  I cannot wait to see his next one!

There were also some great displays from the RHS' Young Designers category, I thought that all 3 were outstanding and learned that the difference between 1st & 2nd place was a mere point.  My favourite (just about) was Katherine Wills' "A Prison Garden", shown below.

Gorgeous, great seating, geometric ground plan - this ticked a lot of my boxes and had the added bonus of an inspiring story (the garden was built by offenders, the colour scheme one used by institutions to calm aggressive behaviours).  London-based Katherine was very unlucky to miss out on winning the Young Designer of the Year, though to be fair she was up against a worthy adversary in the shape of Tristen Knight.

His garden was based on the industrial architecture on brownfield sites in Victorian and 20th century Britain. These sites, often neglected and unloved can be transformed into gardens of great beauty and he reflects this in his garden perfectly.  'Brownfield Beauty' was both innovative and attractive, with 100% upcycled furniture from Thomas Bramwell (whom we have the privilege of representing, more info to follow).

I didnt' see much in the way of sculpture that I fell in love with, but it's wonderful to see young British talent on display and, who knows, some of these designers may source Marshall Murray pieces in their future masterpieces?

Thanks to the RHS for the tickets (and the coffee!), especially to Rachel Horsely who organises a fantastic show.  The show runs until this Sunday if you have the time.

Link to the RHS Tatton Gardens page

Friday, 6 July 2012

"Riot of Colour" - the RHS goes all guerilla.

At Hampton Court Flower Show this year I saw a show garden as striking as it is thought provoking - The Edible Bus Stop garden "Riot of Colour".

The garden was inspired by the shocking events of last summer, the planting described as a representation of the riots.  A burned out telephone box and london taxi burst with plants, nature reclaiming them and transforming them into something quite beautiful.  To the rear of the plot a wall is covered in  vibrant graffiti, framed by sumptuous climbers.

A solitary hornbeam (carpinus betulus) grows out of the tarmac road, the double yellow lines flow into an ingenious bench that wraps around the trunk - nature and urban development in harmony rather than at odds.  I love this idea and think it sums up much of what the message that designers are trying to convey - turning urban into urbane.

The garden's aim is to raise awareness of a larger project.  The Edible Bus Stop originated as an act of 'guerrilla gardening' (gardening on land that the gardeners do not have legal right to use, often an abandoned site or area not cared for by anyone) intended to improve the quality of life for local London residents by growing edibles at a South London bus stop.  Their belief is that "a brutal landscape makes for a brutal outlook", hard and soulless streets are part of the reason for the problems seen by Londoners in the shocking riots of 2011.  By creating green spaces, as well as by engaging local communities in their ongoing upkeep, this project seeks to create a sense of community so sorely lacking today.

Winston Churchill once said that "If all the world were gardeners then there would be no war", a wonderful sentiment and one that strikes to the core of this project.  If you want to know more about the project then you can visit their site at:


Burned out cars, bus stop signs and police "Do Not Cross" tape are not the first thing that springs to mind when considering garden sculpture, however I believe that show gardens should provoke ideas and inspiration as much as an enjoyable aesthetic.  Few clients would want this garden to be re-created in the way that perhaps a CHelsea Show garden might work.  However, you might love the yellow line bench, this would certainly work in a residential property.  The use of planting and graffiti could look fantastic in the right property.

I love this garden, easily my pick of the show and plan to discuss ways in which Marshall Murray can help get this message out through upcoming exhibitions and events.  Wonderful idea, beautifully executed.