Andrew Douglas Ambrose Murrell - South Australian Artist 1980s
South Australian oil painter Andrew Douglas Ambrose Murrell, b. 22 July 1945 had a brief but intense career as an artist that helped him overcome alcohol addiction while in rehabilitation at a half-way house in Semaphore from 1988-89.
He held a number of exhibitions which sold out quickly including at the Sailmakers Gallery in Port Adelaide.
He was a prominent South Australian art and antiques dealer in the 1980s operating out of the well-known London House in Strathalbyn, a charming heritage listed country town located in a village-like setting 60 kilometres from Adelaide.
A deeply spiritual man, many of his works were of Icons of Saints, including Mary and Jesus. His unique signature is an iconic representation of many religious symbols, including the word DOM, short for Dominus - the Latin word for master or God and the Cross of St Andrew in honour of his Scottish ancestry.
The oil painting Mrs Brewster Jones’ Garden in Victor Harbor was originally commissioned by the mother of John and Rick Brewster Jones – founding brothers of one of Australia's most popular rock bands ‘The Angels’.
They formed in Taperoo, a small beachside suburb in Adelaide in 1974 as The Keystone Angels with John on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, brother Rick on lead guitar and backing vocals, and the high energy, extrovert Bernard "Doc" Neeson on lead vocals and bass guitar.
By 1978 according to reports they were Australia's highest paid band, attracting record crowds wherever they played and were often seen as a punk new wave outfit. Critics called the high energy sound, powerful guitar riffing and muscular yet supple rhythm unique and beyond such easy categorisations.
Biographer Ian McFarlane, declared that "The Angels had a profound effect on the Australian live music scene of the late 1970s/early 1980s. [They] helped redefine the Australian pub rock tradition... [their] brand of no-frills, hard-driving boogie rock attracted pub goers in unprecedented numbers. In turn, The Angels' shows raised the standard expected of live music. After 20 years on the road, the band showed little sign of easing up on the hard rock fever."
The Angels' first single, arguably their most memorable and now officially an Australian rock anthem, "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" was released in April 1976 and produced by Vanda & Young and throughout their early career the band was encouraged by Bon Scott and Malcolm Young of ACDC fame.
The song was co-written by the Brewsters and Neeson about grief, mourning, loss and the afterlife with a performance on ABC TV’s popular Countdown program exposing the Adelaide band to a national audience.
“At their live shows, See Your Face Again’s popularity exploded when audiences began shouting “No way! Get fucked! Fuck off!” in the empty space in the chorus after Neeson’s lingering question. Some nights the live version would balloon to more than 10 minutes, with an extended call-and-response between Neeson and the often raucously drunk, sweat-drenched crowds,” according to Australian music journalist Darryl Mason.
While performing live, Rick Brewster often remained motionless, wearing sunglasses and stating publicly that Beethoven convinced him not to move on stage.
This painting of the mother of Australian rock royalty brothers, standing still and stoically in her garden in 1988 captures a historical moment at complete odds with the high energy mayhem of the band’s on-stage presence of its lead singer Doc Neeson.
The artists stunning Monet-like use of colour and the handsome gilt frame make it a worthy addition to the Fairview collection.
Andrew Murrell’s own anti-establishment, irreverent and rebellious personality is reflected in the painting and captures an intergenerational moment that is subtly at odds with the changing social values of Adelaide society in the 1980s. A cultural identity expressed and tapped into so successfully by the performances and lyrics of the rock star sons of the subject matter.
Ultimately, the painting was not to Mrs Brewster Jones’ traditional taste and it was subsequently purchased by her good friend Beatrice Alice Fairfax Murrell (nee Calvert), mother of Andrew Murrell and grandmother of Fairview owner Thomas Murrell.
This work was purchased from the estate of William (Bill) John Calvert Murrell in 2017, brother of Andrew Murrell.