Dawson Murray’s Garden of Memory

February 2011

Publication: The Times

Dawson Murray’s Garden of Memory



An highly accomplished printer-maker and water-colourist, Dawson Murray has personalised the ‘sugar-lift’ technique) which allows him to combine elements of both . He applies the unlikely combination of syrup and gouache to a wet metal platecovered with an acid resistant varnish. The plate is then immersed in hot water causing the sugar solution to expand and breakthrough the varnish. By such a processhe painstakingly creates imagery which is inked and printed, although the plate is reworked many times to achieve the desired result.  Chance elements created by capillary action on the plate mimic the poetic fluidity and randomness usually only achieved by the water-colourist. Discussing this Dawson has said:


“I have reinterpreted a traditional technique in a way that allows me to encounter and grapple with the qualities I was used to coping with when painting a large water-colour. The volatility of the interaction of paper, water and pigment and the vigilance required to control these factors create quite an adrenaline rush!”


Although each work here has taken many weeks, months – and sometimes years  –  to prepare, the genesis of this remarkable garden-based imagery with its deep, mysterious blues and greens extends even further back into the artist’s psyche. The distinctive chevron motifs found in ‘Silent Garden Edge,’ for example, recall a day nearly two decades ago when in his garden stark, clear shadows from a chestnut-stake fence fell across a pile of freshly cut logs. A moment in time and a fragment of memory have thus been re-captured using a combination of suggestive, resonant motifs.


In spite of a debilitating and worsening disability Dawson Murray, against all the odds, carries on making art which continues to evolve, deepen, mature and grow. Dawson’s perseverance, ingenuity – and the total dedication of his wife Liz Murray in enabling him to achieve this – are truly humbling.




Giles Sutherland writes on the visual arts for The Times