Alan Murray is a self-taught artist who challenges audiences to think and question the status quo.
He grew up in Toxteth, Liverpool 8, which was still reeling from riots, poverty and with unemployment being high for decades. Alan was aware from an early age that something was always ‘going on’, be that a police chase for one reason or another, a fight, in his words “some madness”.
Alan turned to youth work to educate and pull young people out of that life. Although he started making art around age 24, he had always had a pencil and paintbrush in his hand and remembers sketching a dinosaur for his dad when he was four. “It was the first time he praised me so I always remember it -he asked me if I traced it. It’s one of the strongest memories I’ve got.”
Although he pursued a career in joinery, he enrolled on a project called Art Skills in Dingle in the 1990s. He was eventually asked to tutor the art course, teaching kids life and communication skills through the medium of art. There he found a niche for himself, doing workshops in youth centres and lots of public art, including the Titanic sculpture on Park Road and the Shankly mural in the Shankly Hotel. Later, he won the Liverpool Art Fair People’s Choice Award and the Cass Art Prize in 2018.
It was a night class that Alan took at Bluecoat through DotArt that really inspired him. “Something sparked and I saw colour and visual imagery for them first time in my life. I learned some of the Old Masters techniques. If I’d have been shown how to mix nine colours when I was ten, I would have been a better person. I wasn’t shown until I was 40. We keep the secrets from certain sectors of society.”
Citing satirist and political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe amongst his greatest influencers, Alan aims to provoke thought and conversation in a world in which he feels constructive conversation is stifled. “The whole point of being an artist is to make people think. I’m just putting the questions out there that we need to ask each other. “
There is no space in time