Review: Spencer Murphy at Photofusion

Written by on September 12, 2015 in Art, What's On - Comments Off on Review: Spencer Murphy at Photofusion

Spencer Murphy’s latest exhibition, The Abyss Gazes Into You, is at the Photofusion Photography Centre on Electric Lane until the 9th October. The exhibition looks at the relationship we have to time, and man’s relationship with nature.

Photo by Spencer Murphy

Andy, Abandoned Airfield © Spencer Murphy, from the series ‘The Abyss Gazes Into You’

If you haven’t heard of award-winning photographer Spencer Murphy, you will definitely know his work, even if you don’t frequent exhibitions. He has shot actors including Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, athletes including Peter Crouch and has worked on campaigns for Channel 4 and Evans Cycles, among many others.

The images in the exhibition aren’t new, but were chosen from Murphy’s back catalogue for inclusion.

Murphy explains: “It’s a collection of photographs I’ve worked on over the years that I’d responded to in a deeper way than other projects I’d done.

“I see it as more of my life’s work than some of my other series that are thematically-led. Hopefully it’s a bit more poetic than some of the other stuff we’re doing.”

The exhibition has a bleak beauty to it, partly due to Murphy’s use of blue, green and grey hues in the photos with occasional flashes of colour. The scenes chosen are empty and isolated, with some stamp of humanity present.

“I quite like monochromatic stuff,” Murphy says, “so generally I’ll work in one or two colour palettes, just because it softens it. It’s not always deliberate though; it’s often how I respond to the shots.”

Murphy draws on the Romantic period for influence, and in particular a piece by Caspar David Friedrich; The Monk by The Sea.

“The way I responded to Friedrich’s piece and the Romantic movement was the way I wanted people to respond to my photography,” he explains.

Kim Shaw, Photofusion’s Director says: “Photofusion has been aware of Spencer and his work for some time now. His portrait of jump jockey Katie Walsh is, for me, one of the most memorable images to come out of the Taylor Wessing competition in recent years.

“This body of work, which is primarily landscape, allows us to see another side of Spencer. The other thing that I particularly like about this work is that it reminds me just how beautiful, and relevant, film photography is.”

The exhibition echos Murphy’s own reflection on ideas around nature, mortality, desolation, beauty, hope and despair.

He says: “I got bored of doing things that were thematically-led where you had to do a project based on more of a documentary style. This is what I felt was more soulful and what I thought people would respond to.

“Some people say it’s very personal to me, and I kind of hope the opposite; that it’s personal to everyone. It’s autobiographical and it is a self-portrait, but I hope it’s more than that. I like people to not know a story, but just respond emotionally.”

The Abyss Gazes Into You is at Photofusion until the 9th October. For more details and to find out what else is on at Photofusion, including courses, studio hire, exhibitions and membership, go to and find them on Twitter @photofusionUK.

To find out more about Spencer Murphy and see more of his work, go to or @mrspencermurphy.

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