Monday, 9 November 2009
Mid Century Modern: Zoe Murphy
Margate. The Kent coastal town that provided inspiration for JMW Turner and TS Eliot, may not be what it used to be, but it has been featured on The Apprentice... and is still surprisingly influential today. 'Until I moved away to university, I hadn't really thought about living miles from the coast or not having a theme park round the corner,' says designer Zoe Murphy, 'it made me thankful that I come from such a visually interesting place.'
At 23 years old, Murphy may be well below our usual age limit, but all her lovely hand-crafted, mid-century furniture is above and beyond the big 4-0. 'I always use retro pieces and try to show people that they don't have to give up on something because it's old and tatty,' she says, 'having faith in an item, or town, can bring it back to something beautiful.' Mmm...that's a lot of faith if, like That's Not My Age, you're from Blackpool...
Re-use is vital to Murphy's ethic of 'love what belongs to you' and the textiles graduate lovingly restores and recycles second-hand furniture with Formica veneers and printed imagery inspired by her hometown. From antiques dealers to house clearance specialists, Murphy has a large group of people looking out for her,' I also do a lot of the hunting myself - one of the perks of the job! So most of my weekends are spent searching through charity shops, auctions and boot sales. It's wonderful to learn the social history of pieces and talk to people about the part they played in their lives.'
Back on the Kent coast, Murphy realises that it's not just the furniture that's getting a facelift. Dilapidated, old Margate, is very slowly undergoing urban regeneration. OK, so there are still loads of boarded up shops but the seaside shelter where Eliot wrote part of The Waste Land, is now a grade II listed building, work on a permanent Turner gallery is under way (due to open in 2011), and Murphy has an artist's studio in a converted pie factory. 'I can feel the regeneration that's going on in my defiant little hometown, and I want to stick around for a few years to help Margate pull itself back to its feet.' Are you listening Tracy Emin?
Zoe Murphy will be at Mid Century Modern, Dulwich College, on Sunday 15th November.