Meet the GirlCrewer #48: Cora Murphy, Owner of Cora Murphy Art

“There is endless nonsense in the art business. Ignore it and keep turning up.”

Meet GirlCrew Cork member and CEO, CFO & CPO (Chief Painting Officer) at Cora Murphy Art

Cora Murphy demonstrating in workshop

The life of the artist has always held a certain mystique, it is seen as a life lived on the fringe outside of the office but GirlCrew Cork member, Cora Murphy, knows that this path is not without its own challenges.

“The life of an artist can be precarious – but understanding it’s a business like any other helps a lot. The old adage about 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration is true. Being consistent and turning up is much more than half the battle.”

A full-time fine artist, Cora says she “…came to painting late and completely by accident…”. While working as the editor of a student magazine at the University of East London, Cora got “…bitten by the journalism bug” and moved into Press & PR, even going so far as to set up a successful communications company. Yet there was more she wanted to do, “I had always wanted to write a novel…So, just before my 30th birthday I pulled the plug, went travelling before settling in New Zealand to write my great book. The situation was idyllic – …and yet, it soon transpired I couldn’t write fiction for toffee! It was in essence disaster. As a diversion, I took a weekly painting class. I instantly loved painting – it remains the closest I ever came to an epiphany.” Upon returning to London Cora got a studio and “muddled my way through many, many shades of brown. It’s hard to overstate how bad my first paintings were but I persisted and slowly the paintings improved.” After 15 years abroad she returned to Ireland and began teaching others to paint – “it has been one of the best moves of my life. Every time I teach, I learn something new. Feedback from my workshops has been inspiring…and I get to teach in gorgeous places (like Italy, The Burren & Bali!).”

You may have seen her workshops recently posted in the Cork group, as Cora is generously offering an exclusive GirlCrew discount. And you don’t have to worry about not having any experience, as Cora says – “I am living proof that anyone can paint. You can’t go from hero to zero, but you can enjoy the journey.”

1. What is the best thing about your role?

Getting to do what I love every day. It is a great feeling to make a living doing something you love. It’s amazing too to work with others and to see their light go on when they realise their creative potential too!

2. What did you find most challenging about it?

Cash flow! You can never be sure when you are going to sell your next painting. Putting strategies in place and managing my time and finances helps to take the insecurity out of being self-employed. During the downturn, I began teaching painting classes. I am self-taught so it was way beyond my comfort zone, but nobody died and it turned out to be the best thing ever for my practice and my business.

Staying focused (and avoiding distractions) can be a challenge too. Some people struggle with finding inspiration – I am the opposite. I have lots of ideas and want to do everything NOW! For me, staying on course and ‘filing’ tangents into a ‘To Do Next’ list is vital to job satisfaction. As a wise woman said ‘You can do anything but not everything’.

3. What is your proudest work-related achievement to date?

My ‘Mexican Odyssey’ exhibition was premiered by the Minister for Arts at the Mexican Embassy of Ireland in 2010 before going on tour.

That exhibition marked a turning point in my work. The paintings were made (using only primary colours and found objects) while I was camping in the Baja desert. I had gone to Mexico to shake off landscape painting, as I felt it was somehow ‘obvious’ and I wanted to make work that was more ‘interesting’. I realised that the work I was making in the desert, although abstracted, was landscape too – I just needed to not limit the genre. That really helped me settle into my own groove and to own my own work.

4. What would be your one tip to others who want to get involved in this industry?

Lean ar aghaidh! Keep going!

There is endless nonsense in the art business. Ignore it and keep turning up. Picasso said “Inspiration exists but it has to find you working”. He was right!

5. What would be your motto in life, and in work?

Anything is possible! I am regularly stunned at how things I only dreamed of have manifested into reality.

Cora is also offering a discount to GirlCrewers booking in for her upcoming workshops in Dublin and Cork.


If you are a GirlCrew member and are interested in being featured in Meet the GirlCrew, just drop me an email at! x

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