Housebound objects

The difference between eroticism and perversion can apparently be illustrated thus: eroticism is a sexually-related act involving, say, a feather. Perversion involves the whole chicken.

The erotic art of Julian Murphy is more likely to feature the vacuum cleaner you would use to clean up after an energetic spot of chicken-plucking. Murphy portrays everyday products – such as clothes pegs and shoes – in a new and sexual light. It is unlikely that the original designers of the objects he features contemplated them in such a way.

That many end-users do consider them in such a way can be easily proved, though. Watch the decidedly Freudian way do-it-your-selfers brandish their power tools if you have any doubts.

Murphy, a freelance graphic designer, was spotted when he showed some of his sketches to the staff of Skin Two magazine in 1995. The latest outcome of this is his book, The Singular Art of Julian Murphy.

Since 1995 he has received coverage from a number of publications, which are pictured at the front of the book. Taking pride of place in the picture spread, among copies of Skin Two, Twilight and Marquis, is, naturally, Design Week. That the design industry’s own organ could have a burgeoning readership among fetish fans has certainly renewed staff vigour, as well as enabling some new avenues of research.

Murphy’s art is interesting in that it is so different to what most viewers expect fetish or erotic art to look like. While there is some leather on display, there are no pvc-clad, whip-wielding meter maids in sight. True, there are handcuffs, secateurs, cheese graters and cake-icers, but almost certainly not in the context you might expect. Being surprised by art is a genuine rarity these days but, judging by the facial expressions of those shown this book, it’s a trick Murphy has pulled off. For this relief much thanks.

The Singular Art of Julian Murphy will be published in July by The Erotic Print Society, price £24.99

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