My paintings have always been about light and for some years now they have been based on drawings made in gardens - my own garden, friends' gardens, wild gardens, formal gardens, secret gardens and even exotic gardens. I love the sense of intimacy of some gardens, of being close enough to share the feelings and creativity that others have poured into these special places. Some of these gardens have the protecting feel of a sanctuary, others the atmosphere of a shrine, while others are as rich and sumptuous as a vision of Paradise.
I frequently work from that area in gardens which falls between full light and deep shade, the zone of dappled shade where forms are at their most mysterious and ambiguous, changing and varying in the flickering light.
I admire Murray for his ability to juggle realism with mystery; observation with abstraction. His beautiful dappled pools and lazily drifting streams verge on the infinite. They encourage day dreams, a promise of pastoral idylls and personal joy.
Murray is a prime example of just how good mid career Scottish contemporary artists are. Moreover he taught and trained many of the young Scottish stars currently making their names internationally with very different types of art.
His work has a visionary quality in a European rather than a Scottish tradition. His view of landscape, therefore, recalls to my mind the work of Turner and Samuel Palmer, not so much in subject matter but in the wholly spiritual dimension which seems to be impregnated into the very paint quality.
There is, too, the undeniable element of homage to that master of garden painting, Claude Monet.
Although the human figure does not appear, the human presence is strongly implied. In this way his work is a hymn of praise to the natural order of creation, alight with the elemental forces of fire, air, earth and water, and not just in the reality of the garden which is his source of inspiration but in the complete works of art.
In an age when it is fashionable to paint expressionistic figurative paintings, all too often over-scaled, Dawson Murray is quietly and patiently defending the long European history of art which strikes a meditative and prayerful note which can be heard only when the intellectual understanding of reality is ordered with a proper humility and balanced with the proper degree of pure poetic imagination.