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Prudence Murphy: Detective Special | Emblem Books

Prudence Murphy: Detective Special

Detective Special invites us to examine our response to guns – the gun as fetish, the gun as purchasable part, the gun transcending the world of play and moving across borders in the form of illegal trafficking.

The initial impetus for this series sparked from a broken toy gun that I found kicking around my home. It was a replica of the Colt ‘Detective Special’, a concealable pocket revolver manufactured for plain-clothes detectives in the US in 1927. The gun had been broken – all that remained were the grip and the cavity where the cylinder had been. For over a year, I researched and collected guns, dismembered them with a hacksaw and photographed them.

The images are formal, ordered, and perfectly proportioned so as to mimic the finely rendered and dissected parts of real gun components provided for the customising of weapons. They may also suggest the rituals of stripping and cleaning of weapons; or bring to mind the documentary images of guns confiscated and destroyed by law enforcement authorities; or the phenomenon of contraband weapons – where guns are dismantled and sent piecemeal over a period of time, or smuggled across borders.

Artist statement from Lucida Magazine


Prudence Murphy is a Sydney-based artist, and currently lectures in Photomedia at the University of New South Wales, Arts & Media (COFA). Murphy completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with first class honours in 1999 and in 2002 a Masters of Fine Arts by research at the University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts. Murphy has exhibited widely zovirax over the counter in Australia and was recently selected to exhibit in the 2014 Ulsan International Photography Festival in South Korea. She was a finalist in the 2014 Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Photography Award, 2013 Bowness Photography Prize, and the 37th Alice Art Prize. In 2007 she was short-listed for the Art and Australia Contemporary Art Award. More info