Artists’ show is family affair
Jacqueline Murray-Hall is really proud to see her artwork hanging on the wall at Masterworks and even prouder to see her son's artwork hanging next to it.
The 80-year-old and her son Miles Murray-Hall are making Masterworks history as the first mother/son duo to hold a show at the gallery.
“I couldn't be prouder of my son,” said Mrs Murray-Hall. “I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but somehow the stars never aligned.”
Mr Murray-Hall, 54, lives in Reading, Berkshire, England, but usually spends summers in Bermuda, painting with his mother.
“I learnt to paint as a small boy, standing at her knee,” he said. And she learnt to paint in much the same way.
“I started to paint when I was a wee tot,” she said. “I used to stand by my mother's painting table. My mother, Marion G Murray, painted flowers on silk and linen for HA & E Smith's and Trimingham Bros.”
She always wanted to have an art exhibition with her mother, but it never happened.
“I left Bermuda at 18 and studied at Central St Martins College of Art & Design in London,” she said.
When she returned to Bermuda she got caught up in her own life. She worked as a switchboard operator for various companies including Renaissance Re. She also had art studios around Bermuda. For the last four years she's maintained one in the Bermuda Arts Centre at Dockyard.
“I do quite well there,” she said. “Painting has always been my soul.”
So, when Masterworks invited her to hold an exhibition with her eldest son, she jumped at the chance.
She noticed he had talent as a young child.
“He would draw anything that took his fancy,” she said. “It was obvious he had talent from a young age. Over the years, I have tried to teach my son to relax and enjoy art.”
Mr Murray-Hall said the most important lesson his mother had taught him was seeing.
“She taught me to try to translate what you see onto a canvas,” he said.
He studied art in Canada, but dropped out of his programme when he realised he could make it as a commercial artist.
“I wasn't upset that he dropped out,” said Mrs Murray-Hall. “I just wanted him to do what his heart told him to do.”
It was a good decision for Mr Murray-Hall, because he was able to make a successful living through commercial art in England for several years. Then the technology boom came.
“Suddenly people wanted desktop publishing,” he said.
“They wanted things done on a computer, which I wasn't comfortable with.”
He was always more comfortable with his hands, so he gave up commercial art to work as a carpenter and joiner.
“I had a young family to support at the time,” he said.
He soon realised he could make more money hanging doors than building them.
Art became something he did on the weekends to relax after a challenging working week.
He admitted he sometimes gets carried away with his art.
While painting one of his latest works, he forgot to cover his fridge. He didn't notice his former appliance was bright blue until after he'd finished throwing paint on the canvas.
Despite all his efforts to scrape down the fridge afterward, part of it is still a lovely shade of aqua.
“But sometimes, you've just got to throw paint around to get things right,” he said.
The result of his labour, a large sailfish breaking through the waves, can be seen in the show.
He only started painting works for the show when he arrived in Bermuda on June 18.
“I brought the sailfish painting with me and part of another painting, but that's it,” he said. “I've been painting day and night everp since I arrived, pretty much.”
He has four grandchildren, and at least one of them looks as though she's inherited the family creativity gene.
•Two Generations is on until September 28.