Brian Griffiths: ‘BILL MURRAY: A Story of Distance, Size and Sincerity


So this was also at Baltic when I visited. I saw it last time I was there but never got round to writing about it. I think this is because I had so many people say to me “have you seen that Bill Murray exhibition at Baltic?” and so by the time I eventually did get round to seeing it, I was already slightly  sick of it! Even after all they’d said, this was not what I  expected! I don’t really know what I was expecting…cardboard cut outs of him maybe? Or some all singing all dancing video installation? Satellite-like installations and little dolls houses were therefore quite a surprise! 


As was the childlike aesthetic which was particularly evident in the painted house piece. The whole exhibition had this childhood nostalgia to it, I think because dolls houses were present. They were lit from the inside and invited you in. They felt very homey in a way but simultaneously distant, as if they were pushing and pulling you into and away from them. Teasing you. Become a part of it or leave it alone? It was quite exciting peeping in not knowing what you’d see. In most cases it was shells from the ocean which I really liked, as they contrasted nicely with the wooden construction of the pieces. 


As well as childhood nostalgia, I also felt there was a certain melancholy to it all. I don’t know if that’s because the space felt so big and silent for these sculptures. Although they are fairly sizable in themselves, they are the smallest structures I’ve ever seen on this floor of the Baltic. The silence just seemed so loud because of this, it was almost eerie. Haunting. Like you weren’t meant to be there but of course that’s a contradiction given it’s a gallery where the sole purpose is to view art.


Most pieces were quite precariously balanced which I think also added to the child-like element. It kind of made me want to get some bits and pieces of my own and start adding to the work! Or bring in some of my own houses to fill out the space and create more liveliness! Bring in one of my old dolls houses. Oooh wow, imagine an exhibition where everyone contributed their old dolls house! In a way it would be kind of creepy. Or maybe that’s just me, sometimes stuff like this freaks me out! 


I wonder what it’s like to be Bill Murray and have an exhibition  focused on you…Must be truly bizarre – that is, if he even knows about it!