Background, earlier years & prints for sale

"Deixe-me tirar a gravata e desabotoar o colarinho.
Não se pode ter muita energia com a civilização à roda do pescoço..."

Let me take my tie off and unbutton my collar. How am I supposed to have energy with civilisation clinging around my neck? (my translation)

Fernando Pessoa-Álvaro de Campos

I have somewhat reluctantly decided to include this small selection of the first drawings I started doing in Spain, once I had found out that there were places where anyone could put on exhibitions. I realised I wanted to exhibit, too. But exhibit what?
The ideas I was drawing were still essentially newspaper/magazine-type gag cartoons (i.e. line drawing + punchline + speech bubble) . . .


. . . which is what I'd started doing while at school & uni. I used to submit batches of cartoons to Punch & Private Eye every week, who would duly reject them.

Though I have a soft spot for these drawings, I'm not necessarily fond nor proud of them enough to ever exhibit them again. But I've included them here for two reasons.

(1) They are important to me: they show not only my change over from gag cartoons, but my character and personality changing as I quickly blended into my new life in Spain. I look at them today and see myself back then trying to find some new way of presenting ideas in purely pictorial ways. I needed to take advantage of the freedom of a large format. I was living in Spain, and needed to free myself from the shackles of language-based punchline wordplay, which I'd got used to in England. So they have a work-in-progress, historical value.
Since the age of eleven I had been a devout disciple of Ronald Searle and a collector of his books. I'd followed how his 1940s-1950s UK gag style had evolved in the 1960s-1970s after his uprootal to live in France, especially as published in his 1978 "Ronald Searle" monograph collection, which I positively drooled over. And I wanted the same for myself. I wanted to produce drawings that would bring about my own monograph retrospective. Maybe now, after all these years, that is what this website is really about.
These early drawings show me flexing my toe, dipping my eye in the water and getting my wings in.
(2) I've paid to have the originals scanned full-size, so I want to use the buggers somehow!

1986, summer. 4 drawings on display in the Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool at the first ever Liverpool Festival of Comedy. Here I am...

...with 2 double-scoop ice-creams! Just before leaving behind England, the safety cushion of student life, Thatcher's Britain & gag cartoons for the great unknown of life in Spain and a radical change in the kind of drawings I was doing.


 By the way, after recent googling, I've found an animation that was playing in another room at that exhibition. jonathan hodgson's "night club", based on my favourite liverpool night club from that time, The Cas)

Later exhibitions in Spain are  here & here, here and here, with other photos here, photos from a later 1996 Bilbao exhibition here, here and here, with my last Liverpool exhibition here


From 1986-2000 I lived and worked in Spain.

I started putting together the occasional exhibition in about 1990. Most of the drawings on this site were conceived, born and exhibited in Spain. Few have been seen elsewhere. Most of the original titles were Spanish, as were the commentaries, which I started displaying . . .


. . . alongside the drawings the second time I exhibited. In particular, I remember watching one young lad come into the gallery (probably on a break from revising in the library upstairs) and spend quite a lot of time looking at the drawings.

Then he noticed the commentaries, read them, then went back to look at the drawings again.

When he left, I was pleased and frankly surprised he'd spent so much time there. But I was even more surprised when he came back later with a girl, and started guiding her from drawing to drawing, pointing certain things out and explaining things to her.

He must fancy this girl, I thought, and he's trying to get inside her knickers by impressing her with his familiarity with the art on display. Well done, I thought, good luck to you, if it works, don't knock it!  exhibitions.

So the commentaries stayed in all future. I found I got good feedback when I included comments, which is why I've retained them here. And I feel the original Spanish has more then earned its place here. The English comments in these cases is an after-thought, which I'm providing just in case you don't speak/read Spanish.

1996. 10 years after. Another decade. Another country. Another town. Another gin-joint.






Another exhibition @ Bar Jaunak, Bilbao, Spain. On the verge of another century.  NO ICE-CREAMS! And this is progress?! Progress my arse. . . .




For info on my Galleries' Levels & Prints, click here & here

Click on the animations below to zoom around my Early Years drawings



Copyright © 2012 by Denis Murphy. All rights reserved. Revised: 06 Oct 2012 11:09 .