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Arthur Murch



Arthur Murch – painter, sculptor, engineer, designer, teacher– was a significant twentieth century artist in Australia. He was widely exhibited and his artwork is found in all major public galleries, many private collections and public places.

This website is dedicated to his life and work.

It is also dedicated to Arthur’s wife, Ria Murch, without whom this site would not exist. Ria championed Arthur and his work and kept archives of notes, drawings, clippings, catalogues, auction records, sculptures and paintings. She said “I fell in love with Murch’s work before we met and then I fell in love with him”. After Arthur’s death, Ria continued her promotion of his work and wrote “Arthur Murch – An Artist’s Life 1902 – 1989 ” (Ruskin Rowe Press 1997).

Ria Murch died in 2014 and in her Will she asked that I “collate and curate the artworks” of her husband, my father, Arthur Murch.

What an honour and legacy with which to be bestowed.

So developed this website which draws on Ria Murch’s passion and excellent recordkeeping. Ria was not only a journalist, author, networker extraordinaire but also a fine artist and printmaker. I have included her works on this site.

There are many critical reviews and writings about the work of Arthur Murch as well as records in the archives of universities and galleries – in particular the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This site aims to showcase the diversity of Murch’s works and interests across the decades – from 1916 – 1989. As his daughter, I hope that I can introduce aspects with which his family, friends, students and assistants would have familiarity – his seriousness about his art and his sense of place in its history as well as his humour, humility, dedication, humanity. I am presenting not only finished works but also his processes – many of which now seem so labour-intensive, mechanical and “twentieth century” though Arthur learned many of them from his study of the traditional techniques of European artists and sculptors from as long ago as the fourteenth century. Rocking gently on his short legs, his large hands holding a paintbrush or two, Arthur would speak at length of the “Greats” of civilization – the Mesopotamians, Greeks, Etruscans not to mention his heroes of the Renaissance and later artists like Degas, Velasquez, Cezanne and so many more. Knowledgeable and confident of his understanding of “what makes a solid” (instilled through his early engineering work), light and colour theory, pattern and placement of elements he synthesised his own depictions of the human form and the natural world. He did not ascribe to any particular art movement, viewing his work in a very practical manner – “workman-like” was a favorite term. It was important to him to be a part of the next step in the progress of the long history of art…and to make a living from it.

Arthur shot 35mm movie film in the 1930’s in Central Australia. He gave me a 16mm camera in 1968 when I was 17 and came to technical college with me to study film and television. Some of the resultant films and videos are featured on this site along with archival footage, audio recordings and many photographs. I am very pleased to be able to share these as well as hundreds of images of Murch’s paintings from galleries and auction houses. Many individuals and organizations have kindly given me permission to feature them. I draw your attention in particular to the 1975 Australia Council documentary film “Arthur Murch” by Meg Stewart. I am indebted to all the conscientious archivists, preservers and enthusiasts of our cultural history who have helped with this project and hope that researchers of Australian twentieth century art will find this site a useful resource.

Michelle Murch
8th November 2015

At the time of making this website public, there is still much to add!- many artworks for the Gallery, additions to the Timeline decades, photographs and much more. In the meantime, I hope that there are categories or items that are of interest. Please contact me if you have questions, corrections or more information.
Michelle Murch
12th June 2016

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