2017-11-22-2018-11-21 --- 2018-11-21 07:52:59--18
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LOT :83
Noel Murphy (b.1970)
Estimate EUR : €8,000.00 - €12,000.00
Auction Date : 22-11-2017


Noel Murphy (b.1970)

Optimist's Journey

Oil on canvas, 152 x 122cm (60 x 48)
Signed verso

Provenance: The Eamonn Mallie Collection


Literature: One Hundred Years of Irish Art, edited by Eamonn Mallie, illustrated to represent Noel Murphys work p.225.


This large painting Optimists Journey' is the only truly allegorical work in our collection. It was a gift from heaven, thanks to the Belfast art dealer Michael Flanagan.


Michael was fully aware that I had been researching the existence of the finest examples of Irish art in private hands ahead of my Millennium publication 'One Hundred Years of Irish Art. Unknown to me Michael, during a visit to Noel Murphy's studio, recommended that he should paint a work for inclusion in the book on Irish art. Murphy embarked on the present painting. In the late Eighties Murphy, like thousands of others across Northern Ireland tuned in every day to hear the latest diet of bad news and political squabbling among politicians failing to find a political solution. The outworking of months of endless hours of dedication by Murphy, now living in Waterfoot in the Glens of Antrim, was Optimists Journey'.


When invited to view the finished work Murphy revealed he had been living on a few pounds a day to support his wife Annette and their new baby girl. I suggested that I would go to my sponsor and persuade him to buy the work. I watched Annette's eyes light up with delight: Murphy recoiled - wrapped himself in his arms and added "there is a spirituality in poverty.


What we see here is a scene in which a faux boat - a bath in reality, is landlocked with four men ignoring each other. Located in the bath metaphorically are the leaders of Northern Ireland's four major political parties of that time all looking past each other, using mock props, a piece of a broken water pipe for a telescope, a yard brush for an oar, a sketch book for a map and a tea cloth for a sail. Symbolically Murphy's landlocked 'Four Men in a Boat' is probably only matched by Tommy Sands' anthem of the Northern Ireland Troubles - 'There were Roses, a song about the hurt visited on both sides in the political inertia at that time.

Eamonn Mallie


Hammer Price : €5,000.00
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