Art

Artists pays tribute to Big Issue vendors in thought-provoking project: 'Ordinary moments go unnoticed'

British artist Patrick Murphy has drawn an image of a Big Issue vendor as part of a series portraying 'ordinary stories'

Patrick Murphy's drawing of a Big Issue vendor / Patrick Murphy

An acclaimed artist has paid tribute to Big Issue vendors who brave “freezing weather” to sell the magazine.

British artist Patrick Murphy is perhaps best known for his grand, surreal projects – like scattering rainbow pigeon sculptures around Soho or installing 200 resin seagulls throughout the French city of Le Havre.

But the Yorkshireman’s latest project is closer to home: he wants to capture normal people as they “travel from A to B in our towns and cities.”

“These ordinary moments often go unnoticed in our everyday lives, but one day I thought I would try and sketch pedestrians,” Murphy explained. “I enjoyed the process, it’s a piece of daily mindfulness for me as an artist.”

The artist’s latest subject is a Big Issue vendor, spotted through the window of the Tate Modern cafe.

“It was a bright but chilly February Saturday and I saw your vendor walking past braving the cold,” Murphy said.

“It made me think how cold it must be to stand outside trying to sell Big Issue magazines. So I thought I would try and draw him. We always support sellers by buying an issue when we pass.”

The work will feature in Murphy’s project ‘EVERYDAY PEOPLE’, a series of portraits capturing “unguarded, unposed situations” in the UK’s urban spaces. The overall series will feature 365 portraits set to be collected in an upcoming art book.

“I’m fascinated by how pedestrians use urban spaces and get around travelling from A to B; the clothes they wear, the bags they carry from plain carrier bags to designer ones, it all builds a narrative of a stranger,” Murphy said.

“Each day presents an opportunity to capture a story, focusing solely on the individual devoid of background distractions.”

Many artists have taken Big Issue vendors as their subjects. In January, Folkestone artist Shane Record’s painting of local seller Raheem Ahmed went viral, attracting acclaim on social media and in the Kent Town.

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