Mr Ben Murphy

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Personal profile


In a remote mountainous region of south-east Spain individuals gather from other parts of the world to live outside mainstream society. Identities are reinforced through coexistence in loosely structured, transient, self-regulating, intentional communities. Their makeshift dwellings and surroundings act as deliberate architectural symbols of rejectionist ideologies.This practice based research aims to demonstrate that dwelling and habitat are implicitly linked to the expression of this identity. Using large format analogue photography as primary source material this work explores the complexities of different rejectionist identities and offers new understanding about migrant counter culture.Acknowledging the work of photographers and writers who have examined people in intentional communities employing an ethnographic approach to their behaviour and others who have focussed on alternative communities’ harmony with nature, this research examines different types of international rejectionist identities which have come together in a foreign land. It does this primarily through a study of their self constructed dwellings and habitat.


How are radical non-conformist identities manifested through self-made architecture and habitat?

What do photographs of habitations devoid of their occupants and creators uncover about these peoples identities? 

How can photography work to explain different identities?

What does it mean to live outside society? What is it that is being rejected? 

What are these identities?

To what extent do these communities represent a homogonisation of western   

countercultural ideologies from the past? 

How do types of temporary dwelling represent sites of rejection against conventional society?

What tensions exist between the dwellings and the landscape?

How are these spaces invariably entangled and messy and how can photographs help untangle and make sense of them?

What paradoxes, disfunctionalities, conflicts and compromises emerge in the relationship between the counter culture and the hegemonic through reflection on the photographs?

Personal profile

I trained as a graphic designer at Northumbria University school of art and design and subsequently worked as assistant art director on the Face magazine, and assistant to Neville Brody before becoming a film and television actor for 10 years. My photographic career began in 1994 with portrait commissions for the Sunday Telegraph Magazine. I live in London.

My work is in the permanent collections of the V&A museum, London, the National Portrait Gallery, London,and the Architectural Association, London, The Archive of Modern Conflict, London and Toronto.

My book, titled The U.N. Building, was published by Thames and Hudson, 2005.

A selection of photographs from The Riverbed series featured in Portfolio with an accompanying essay by the philosopher Nigel Warburton. This series was nominated for the European Sovereign Art Prize by Brett Rogers curator of the Photographers’ Gallery, and then shortlisted. My commissioned work appears regularly in the Telegraph magazine, Wallpaper magazine,Nowness. My work has been featured in art magazines Portfolio, Design Observer, Fomu, Domus, 1000 Words. The Riverbed series has been featured in the Antwerp Foto Museum bi-annual journal Extra, and reviewed in Belgian culture magazine Knack by the art critic Ludo Beckers. 

In 2010 I won an award from the Graham Foundation in Chicago, to produce a new series concerning the temporary makeshift dwellings of the homeless in America.

The work, titled “Homes of the American Dispossessed” was exhibited at the Architectural Association Gallery, London, January -March 2012. As well as my research work, I am also working on a series about Britain’s soon to be demolished Gas holders for a national archive and a book about the current Ai Wei Wei exhibition at Blenheim Palace.

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