Wednesday, 5 October 2011

From Bristol with Love - Photographer, Kai _ Safe Harbour

Tall, bearded and built like an ox, Kai Murphy’s intimidating silhouette juxtaposes his soft demeanor and philosophical attitude. A photographer in the traditional sense he opts for film over digital on most occasions. Sourcing old, often expired films donated by friends, scavenged from ships, junk shops and car boot sales. When successful this game of film roulette produces a whimsical nostalgia not matched in the apps of the iphone 4s. His subject matter is often linked to very personal associations of romance, people and places. Seeking out the new, his work documents a journey from initial meeting to a more developed perspective as the relationship progresses.

What I liked about Kai was his delicate nature and the energy and passion bursting out of him when he spoke of his work. He really believed in what he was doing, and went about it in a calm, organic way. Originally from he countryside he grew up on the river in a houseboat close to the border of three counties near to where Kate Moss now resides.


Martina Randles: You cite yourself as an absorber of cultures, what does this mean?
Kai Murphy:
It means I can’t stop thinking about everything that I don’t know. My Granddad told me an amazing thing once “Those who don’t know history are deemed to repeat it”, I think about this all the time.

Martina Randles: What inspires you to take pictures?
Kai Murphy:
The same feeling that you get when you hear an amazing piece of music… something just clicks, your gut rolls over and away you go.

Martina Randles: How many cameras do you have?
Kai Murphy:
I own about 40 cameras, not all are working. My favorite camera to use is my Adox Sport 6x9. The oldest camera I own is also the biggest a Hunter Penrose process camera from 1893, I’m still looking for a decent wheelbarrow to transport it.

Martina Randles: What's better film or digital?
Kai Murphy:
Its not a case of which is better, its more a case of whichever you prefer to use. When I get my hands on a friend’s digital camera I’m like a kid in a sweet shop, I can’t stop pushing the buttons. I’ll take a thousand pictures in one fell swoop. When I use film I am much more aware of the situations I get myself into, and the environment around me. I owned a digital camera once; it cost me about £150 it broke after a couple of months. I bought a 1967 Olympus Trip from a charity shop recently for £5 its still working today. I think it’s whatever floats your boat… film floats mine.

Martina Randles: Why did you decide to go to India, to you find yourself?
Kai Murphy:
I have never had any intentions to find myself; I think if I ever did I would end up in a feedback loop of doom. I enjoy finding other people. I ended up in India because I was jealous of my girlfriend who had just bought tickets to go. I had just packed in my editing job and decided to join her - then discovered she was trying to get away from me.

Martina Randles: Have you ever been blown away by a photograph?
Kai Murphy:
My friend Tom Mead took a great picture of a goat in China.

Martina Randles: You were a film maker before photography, how was that?
Kai Murphy: The film industry is fucking horrible yet it is utterly addictive chasing a dream, you discover you didn’t really know what the dream entailed - it becomes an endurance test.

Martina Randles: What are the differences?
Kai Murphy: To me photography and filmmaking are the same thing. I love to tell stories and to understand the natural narratives and rhythms that are happening all around us. A photograph is a film but with no exposition.

Martina Randles: What's Bristol saying?
Kai Murphy: Bristol is saying grab me by the balls or I’ll kick you in the ass.

Martina Randles: Where do you plan to take your work? 
Kai Murphy: Well I just took it to the Dollar Street Gallery, but anywhere in the public eye is great. This year my goal is to make a book and have my cameras pay the rent.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Magical White Rabbit

Wow, the White Rabbit gallery home to contemporary Chinese art took my breath away, on route to the airport post late lunch we took a detour to what I initially thought would be a shoe box sized gallery. Down an unassuming side street the glass paneled doors opened into a spacious four floored building home to painting, photography and sculpture. The works posed important questions about the world we inhabit and where we they human race is headed. I was overjoyed to find art which surprised and delighted.  Most striking were the images of an overweight panda, rabbit and dear, each plonked in the middle of their own painting surrounded by broken down apartment blocks; large scale illustrations of humans hung alongside animal carcass; giant tree sculpture and Ai Weiwei's path of porcelain puddles. I wish I'd had more time, instead of a whistle stop tour I plan to return for a second visit, the array of Chinese teas in the cafe was enticing enough to tempt me back.

Liu Di's surreal photographs of gigantic animals squatting in suburbia
Black and white painting, giving an almost photograph feel

Easy to get lost amongst the sea of sculptures

Current photographs of Burmese prison camps by Lu Nan