Delphian Interview: Benjamin Murphy & Nick JS Thompson

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In the lead-up to their collaborative exhibition with Guts Gallery, I spoke to the gallery directors and founders of Delphian, Benjamin Murphy & Nick JS Thompson.

First thing’s first, introduce us to Delphian – who are you? what do you do?

Delphian is a curatorial platform that has the platforming of exciting early-career artists as its key ideal. As well as curating both solo and group exhibitions, we run an annual Open Call competition, and we host a series of talks and panel discussions, all aimed at early-career artists. We also run Delphian Magazine, the Delphian Podcast, and we are releasing our first book through Foolscap Editions in 2020. 

Delphian Interview: Benjamin Murphy & Nick JS Thompson
Morteza Khakshoor

What would you say your artistic background is? 

A: We are both artists, and we share a love of curation. We see the curation of a show as a creative act in its own right, and we have this ethos in mind whenever working on a show.

How did Delphian come into being?

A: We met when Nick was running a magazine that did a feature on Benjamin’s debut solo show. We began working together informally, assisting each other with the unofficial curation of each other’s solo shows. We did this for a few years until we decided in 2016 to launch Delphian, and start curating shows of other people’s work. As artists and gallerists, we know what this relationship is like from both sides, and so we hope that our approach to an exhibition is more well-rounded and artist-focused than others who don’t have experience of both sides of the coin.

Delphian Interview: Benjamin Murphy & Nick JS Thompson
Lauren Roche

What has been your favourite project Delphian has been involved in? 

A: Our Open Call is an absolute nightmare to orchestrate (last year we received over 10,000 submissions), but the response it gets, and the work we receive, makes this a highlight of our calendar for sure. 

We didn’t like that a lot of Open Calls didn’t really give anything to the early-career artists that are by-and-large who apply to them, and most are just crass ways to fund other less successful parts of the gallery’s programme. So with the gracious support of theprintspace, we made ours completely free-to-enter, and we removed all of the laborious barriers to entry like long submissions forms etcetera. To enter, an artist has simply to tag us in a post on Instagram, and use the hashtag #DelphianOpenCall. Once the work for the show has been selected, we have all of the artists send us a high-resolution image which we then make into a print. This means that artists anywhere in the world can enter without having to worry about shipping and insuring their work, and can take part in an exhibition overseas without paying a single penny for the privilege. 

Which artists/trends do we need to be watching at the moment?

A: At the risk of sounding trite – all of the work we are showing and posting about online is (naturally) the work we are most excited by. So for the best insight into the artists we think you should be keeping an eye on, look to our social media (@DelphianGallery).

Social Media as a tool for artists – pro or anti? 

A: The way you phrased that question makes it very easy to answer. Social media is a tool, and should be utilised accordingly. It is not a good way to judge anyone’s success (especially your own), and it isn’t going to make you a millionaire, but it is an incredibly useful tool that all artists should know how to use effectively. Social media Luddites are harming no-one but themselves. Much of this is covered in our forthcoming book, which will be a business book for early-career artists. 

What are you angry about right now? 

A: The current political atmosphere is febrile and dangerous. That, and Jeff Koons.

Where and when can we see your next exhibition?

A: The private view of our collaborative show with Guts Gallery opens on the 28th November, and then runs until the 5th December in Dalston.

©2019 Delphian Gallery

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