Paula Murray’s porcelain sculptures have been described by art critic Nancy Baele as “fusions of near rupture and serene beauty, echoing nature and the human body in their forms.” Her delicate vessels examine the invisible boundary between the physical and spiritual worlds and the sense of wonder evoked by life’s mysteries.
Born in 1958 in Ottawa, Canada, Murray’s interest in the relationship between the mind and the body initially drew her to study science science at the University of Ottawa. Upon discovering clay at a co-operative studio near the University, she changed direction and began studying ceramics at Sheridan College, School of Craft & Design and then at The Banff Centre’s summer residency sessions. While at Sheridan she was mentored by Ruth Gowdy McKinley, assisting with her monthly wood firings. Her path from science to ceramics provided the foundation from which she has developed a distinctive body of work. “Paula Murray has….opted for a path that lies out along porcelain’s very fringes. She’s pushed the material’s tensile qualities way past their literal and figurative breaking points and in the end created work of enormous beauty, power, and meaning. It all has to do with a willingness to abandon (or at least, put aside) the aesthetic fundamentalism of a purist approach.” Gil McElroy 2007
Murray has lived in the Gatineau Park on the shores of Meech Lake, Quebec since opening her first studio in 1980. For extended periods of time, throughout her career, she has lived on the water with her young family, sailing between Canada and South America. Inspiration is drawn from this ongoing relationship with nature, and through her investigation into our perceptions of the nature of reality.
Murray has received many honours and awards for her exceptional work. In 2006, she was elected into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts. Exhibiting internationally, work is frequently shown at SOFA Chicago, and was selected for the prestigious 54th Premio Faenza in Italy (2005), the Canadian Pavillion, Cheonju International Craft Biennale, Korea (2009), the 5th and 8th World Ceramic Biennale, Korea ( honourable mentions, 2009.2015) and the Cluj International Ceramic Biennale, Romania (2013). Since 2006, Murray has been commissioned by the National Arts Centre to create a work for the recipients of the Governor General’s Performing Arts awards. Representatives of the Canadian Government have presented her works to such dignitaries as former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, US President Bush, German Chancellor Schröder and Russian Prime Minister Putin.
Public collections include the World Ceramic Centre, Korea, Museum of Ceramics, Faenza, Italy, The Canadian Museum Civilization, Canada Council Art Bank, Canadian Clay and Glass Museum, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, The Burlington Art Centre and The Gardiner Museum of Ceramics. Currently an instructor at The Ottawa School of Art, she is a frequent presenter of lectures and workshops.