Installation view of Jan Murray’s <em>Puff</em> series, 2021 on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.     Image: Sean Fennessy

Jan Murray

Jan Murray
(b. 1957, Ballarat. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Jan Murray is an artist working across painting and sculpture, with a particular interest in the anatomy of a painting. Murray’s practice often explores the physical and metaphorical limits of the painting as both image and object. Combining intricate technique and her idiosyncratic wit, Murray’s often humorous works have a tendency to ‘trick’ the viewer, in a fashion not dissimilar to the tradition of trompe l’oeil painting.

Murray’s Puff series, 2021, centres on the puffer jacket the artist wore on her daily walks during the COVID-19 lockdowns in winter 2020. Seemingly suspended in mid-air, the familiar, ubiquitous garment is rendered strange in both its large scale and orientation. The title of each work in the Puff series references the biological language of the transformation from larva to butterfly. Here, says Murray, ‘the “empty” garment hints at metamorphosis and flux – the emergence from the cocoon – much like I felt as I stepped out of isolation and lockdown into daylight and liberty wearing my puff coat’.

Murray completed postgraduate qualifications at RMIT University and the Victorian College of the Arts, where she was Head of Art until 2018. Since 1981, she has shown regularly in solo and group exhibitions in public museums, commercial galleries and artist-run initiatives. She has been included in national and international surveys of contemporary art and is widely represented in significant Australian public collections as well as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She has received an Australia Council Project Grant, and her Australia Council residencies include Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Viafarini, Milan; and the British School at Rome.