Lanzarote37° recently caught up with artist and Doncaster native Dominic Murray to learn about his passion for art, his hopes for his new ‘Cabra Cabra’ art gallery in the town of Teguise and to find out how exactly he ended up swapping the bright lights and skyscrapers of London for the tranquil surroundings of Lanzarote.
As you would expect, Dominic’s lifelong obsession with art stretches back as far he can remember. He recalls teaching himself how to sketch and write before he had even started attending school, a habit which he admits has left him with a rather peculiar method of gripping a pen as he was self taught and to this day the habit has remained with him.
Attending school Dominic’s prime interest was art. He told how his art teacher would present an award every week to the student who painted the best picture, as his talent was so evident at such an early stage the teacher made an agreement with Dominic that would see him claim the award every four to five weeks to ensure it got shared around and Dominic didn’t become unpopular amongst his classmates due to his constant success.
After school Dominic got involved with prop making and costume design. He designed many masks and costumes for famous West End productions including Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Evita, and perhaps the one that has brought him the most attention, The Lion King.
Dominic revealed to us he was recently explaining his previous works to a journalist and all of a sudden the initial story had now snowballed into a rumour and he was quoted as saying he designed and wrote the original music for the famous musical. He states it is something he never said he wishes to clear up before he gets into trouble, as he laughs at how easy it is for points to be misunderstood and taken out of context. Dominic revealed he worked on the production designing costumes and masks, as did many other people.
He revealed he never really saw himself doing anything else and comes from a family where the majority of his siblings are self employed, as he claims it must be a gene in their DNA. He pays constant attention to what is selling and popular in the market at the moment and admits it can be tough sometimes as sales come and go in waves “some weeks your work flies off the walls while other weeks it isn’t touched”. The main characteristic it takes to be successful, he claims, “is to be self confident and not easily offended”, to be able to ignore and brush off criticism from ignorant viewers.
Dominic also told how he designed the original ‘Mr. Blobby’ costume, Mr Blobby was a character on Noel Edmonds' Saturday night variety television show Noel's House Party, portrayed by Barry Killerby. The costume consisted of a bulb shaped pink figure dotted with yellow spots, who was constantly grinning and had jiggling eyes. It was a candid camera style prank, his deliberately childish and unprofessional behaviour used to irritate the celebrities taking part. When the prank was finally revealed the Blobby costume would be opened, revealing Noel Edmonds inside.
Mr blobby turned out to be so successful the BBC decided to take advantage of the character’s unprecedented popularity and sold reportedly over £100million worth of spin off merchandise. This unprecedented success led to a legal battle with the BBC as Dominic alleged they had committed copyright infringement. However the BBC claimed Dominic had only designed the costume to their own requirements.
After trying his hand at nearly every form of art and design from prop making to sculpting, Dominic returned to his initial love of painting at the age of 40, as his mother joked he had “gone the whole circle” and was now back to the start. It was around this time Dominic started visiting Lanzarote and developed a soft spot for it, the island grew on him more and more every time he returned. He eventually took the plunge and moved to the island permanently just over six years ago and settled in the picturesque town of Teguise overlooking the volcanic peaks against a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.
A number of Dominic‘s relations are originally from Ireland and, strange as it sounds at first, he recalls noticing many similarities between Lanzarote and the emerald isle when he first moved here. He claims that the cliffs and volcanic landscape are similar to the west coast of Ireland, minus all the green scenery and the rain obviously, but told how these similarities helped him adjust to the life here and settle in.
After relocating to the island Dominic continued to work and paint nearly every day as he imported all his materials, including canvas, paint and frames from London. He still exports the majority of his work to galleries in London as this is his main market but in recent years has found himself growing continuously frustrated at not having complete control over his paintings. He explained that sending them to London means he does not know what way they are displayed and how they are treated. It was this frustration that gave rise to the idea to open an art gallery right here on his doorstep where he could have full control over his works, what was displayed where and how the area was designed.
The last two years have been admittedly quiet in London reveals Dominic, as a new form of computer graphic art consumed enthusiasts but he has been around long enough to know it is just a phase and is confident sales will pick up again in the near future.
He likes to think his work is so diverse it appeals to people off all walks of life, for tourists unwilling to lug around a large painting he has scaled down prints of his work and also cards that are ideal gift for a birthday or other celebration. For those settled here he offers large framed works.
Dominic hopes the gallery here in Teguise will raise awareness of his work, a goal that has already been accomplished before the gallery had even opened. In the weeks prior to the opening Dominic found himself bombarded with interview requests from a variety of media organisations including Canarias TV, he jokingly referred to himself as a local celebrity amid all the fanfare surrounding the opening of the gallery. If he succeeds in raising awareness and sales are good Dominic plans to one day branch out and maybe even display his work in galleries in Madrid and Barcelona, plans he admits that that are a long way off yet but at least are in the pipeline.
He is determined to ensure the gallery is approachable and has an easy going atmosphere about it, he does not want it to become an arrogant type of gallery that intimidates people and frightens them away. The location of the gallery he claims is “absolutely perfect as a constant flow of traffic passes through Teguise”, mainly thanks to the large market on Sunday which draws tourists from all over the island. Although he wants to create an approachable and relaxed atmosphere in the gallery he does not want to do too much in case it cheapens it.
The gallery, located at Calle Nueva 4, La Villa de Teguise (On the corner of Palacio Spinola) measures 11 ½ metres x 4 metres and Dominic revealed he has spent upwards of €5,000 restoring the building. It was a distasteful shade of purple when he first got his hands on it but after endless hours of hard work and buckets of white paint he transformed into what it is now.
Dominic’s work is unique and unlike many other artists he does not specialize in one particular form of art. His paintings range from frighteningly life like portraits, to elegant, detailed snapshots of still life objects and of animals. Some of his most impressive pieces include a portrait of an elderly Spanish lady and his colourful, vibrant depictions of goats are a trademark of his work and instantly recognizable. All of which are on display in ‘Cabra Cabra’.
Dominic struggled to hide his excitement regarding opening of the gallery as all his ambitious ideas and plans that were once figments of his imagination are now, slowly but surely, becoming reality. He is aware of the fact he has taken a significant risk opening the gallery but when someone is as passionate about their work as Dominic is I think he can rest safe in the knowledge that this latest project of his will be a successful one.
Dominic’s ‘Cabra Cabra’ gallery in Teguise is open to the public from
Monday to Friday and from 10.00h-13.00h and 16.00h - 19.00h.
Saturday 10.00h - 13.00h.
Sudany 10.00h - 14.30h.