Our Walls


Words by Billie Jenkins Images curtesy of Murray Guy

The internet can be a cruel place. Amidst the constant stream of information, that moves between exciting, underwhelming and offensively under-researched, there will be an exhibition I would kill to attend but know I never can because geography and my not being a rich socialite who can jet setting around the world on a whim. The show about to close at New York’s Murray Gallery is one of those shows. A group show shared between three artists, it explores common urban symbolism, documenting the evolution of the symbols that exist and alter within city environments. Lucky for me (and you), whilst the internet is a tease, it’s also a bit slutty, offering me more than my fair share on the website.


Matthew Buckingham contributes Peace and Anarchy, combining short prose tracing the historic development of the symbols with photography of the symbols in the world. It makes for fascinating reading, for example it reveals one idea that grew into the peace sign of today was designer Gerald Holtom’s drawings of himself with ‘with arms stretched outward and downward in despair’. 

Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 13.17.55

Zoe Leonard, the incredible, fiercely feminist artist, shows her photography series depicting boarded up or filled in doors and windows.  Ideas of evolving surfaces emerge from the subtle repetition of the subject. The scar tissue of bricks and concrete, where previously functional spaces existed, map the evolution of our interaction with our environments. It’s a painfully simple concept that forges a vivid conceptual response in the viewer.


Gordon Matta-Clarke gives us a collection of photographed grafitti, developing a narrative though its focus on the words and symbols of the art form. Presenting the medium as a form of public announcement and a reclaiming of the urban environment for the signer.

The exhibition closes in four days, and I’m sad to say I won’t be making the trip to NY to see it face to face. The delicate overlap of art and cultural anthropology puts this firmly on my ‘one that got away’ list, and I hope to see a similarly focused and intelligent exhibition coming to the UK soon.

Related posts: