At the core of childhood memory lies a boundless expanse of freedom—a sanctuary where dreams are spun, trees are conquered, and bicycles glide across hot asphalt. Kendal Murray, weaves the fabric of these memories into vibrant tapestries, awakening the spirit of child's play within the rich, verdant embrace of nature. Her art, a harmonious symphony of tangible familiarity, draws forth scenes of kinship and laughter as they unfurl amidst the untamed splendour of the Australian bush, waterways, and lush landscapes. Murray's delicate worlds, suspended in time, invite us to glimpse the fleeting emotions of a memory—of laughter echoing through the trees, freedom soaring on the wind, and time dissolving like the morning dew.
As an artist who has close to thirty years’ experience exhibiting her work, Murray’s themes are well formulated. She’s deeply interested in psychological experiences and how they imprint upon the mind. Her diorama-like creations dance upon the edge of sensory play, where her tiny characters can enact a range of narratives. Often using man-made objects such as compact mirrors, tea cups, saucers and glass jars, these everyday articles prompt a personal engagement - as if holding whimsical memories in the palm of one's hand.
In one of Murray’s tiny terrarium-like scapes, a dog frolics in the rolling waves as a family watches on, perched on the sand, relaxed in the sun. It’s easy to imagine the sound of seagulls, crashing waves and the smell of sunscreen and salt in the air. This iconic beach scene, part of the Australian vernacular, connects directly to our emotion of memories. In another, a children’s tea cup and saucer set create a secret world where two children play in the bush. One sits happily perched on the branch of a tree watching on as the other wades into a stream, cooling off in the summer heat. This world of their very own; a womb-like safe place where anything and everything is possible. Murray's art serves as a mirror reflecting the essence of our own early memories. Each miniature landscape, rich in detail and emotion, conjures a sense of familiarity that entwines with the threads of our own experiences.
At the heart of Murray's work lies the profound belief that a child's communion with the environment is birthed from their experience of 'place.' As the relentless march of urban sprawl threatens to engulf the verdant fields and native bushland, the embrace of the natural world grows ever more elusive. Studies by organisations such as UNICEF illuminate the vital role of green environments in shaping a child's identity, nurturing their wellbeing, and guiding their development—ideals that resonate in the tender notes of Murray's artistic symphony.
The enchanting tapestry of Murray's work serves as a poignant reminder that the echoes of our memories hold the key to a deeper understanding of ourselves. Immersed in her art, we rediscover our intrinsic bond with the Earth and the verdant realms that cradle us. As we nurture our connection with the environment from our earliest days, we are woven into the tapestry of a grander design, a cosmic embrace that, in turn, nourishes our soul.
Kendal Murray lives and works on Gadigal Land. Her work is represented in public and private collections in Australia including the Powerhouse Museum, Goulburn Regional Gallery, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, University of Western Sydney, University of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Bank Collection. She has been the recipient of several awards including the Deakin Small Sculpture Prize (2015) and the Beowulf Award in the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize. She is represented by Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne and Arthouse Gallery in Sydney.
Images: Instagram/ Kendal Murray