Murch modelled the head of Desiree Quigg in the 1920’s after studying sculpture under Rayner Hoff at East Sydney Technical College.
The original bronze cast was made at Harry West’s Foundry in Newtown, NSW circa 1930. This cast was not successful and has the back of the head missing. In the 1990’s with the help of sculptors and expert foundry casters, including Dan Lake, Ria Murch (widow of Arthur Murch) had a new bronze cast. In 2018, from the mould made in the 1990’s, Michelle Murch had a new series of glazed slip-cast earthenware (ceramic) heads produced.
In mid 2019 I was contacted by the son of Desiree. He had inherited the original plaster cast of the portrait bust of his mother. I learnt some history of Desiree and her son has generously shared the information and photograph. He writes of the cast: “Considering its age (nearly 90 years old) and its fragility, it’s in not too bad a condition. It used to reside on the mantlepiece above an open fireplace in my grandparent’s bedroom – hence the discoloration, particularly on the nose, which mum thought was hilarious. It’s had several moves in its existence – Croydon Park (two residences) with my grandparents, with my mother in Carlingford, Gosford East and Erina, then to my sister in Wyee Point and finally to me in Melbourne.”
Desiree Quigg’s history: “Mum was born Desiree Jean Quigg on 8th December 1922, the second of four children, residing in Croydon Park until she married in 1942 to Donald Millman Crook, a sergeant in the AIF. She had three children – David (me) in 1944, Susan in 1947 and Mark (stillborn) 1954. My father was not a good provider, so mum entered the workforce in the late 1950s in various clerical/administrative roles, primarily to ensure that my sister and I received a good education, finally retiring around 1987. She lived a simple life, quite content in her own company, enjoying reading and watching TV. She survived a couple of heart attacks, strokes and a bout of TB but eventually succumbed, as did most of her siblings, to chronic pulmonary fibrosis in 2002, nearing her 80th birthday.”
This beautiful head of a boy aged 9 was completed in the same years as the head of Desiree Quigg. The portrait of Colin James Conacher was commissioned by his mother Dorothy MacMaster. Andrew Conacher, son of Colin James, has provided the following: “My grandmother, Dorothy was a wealthy woman who supported the arts and artists struggling during the Great Depression.” Dorothy was married to Charles William Davey Conacher who was the manager of the Vesteys meat business.
Murch modelled and painted portraits of Lily Wilson who worked at the Royal Art Society, Sydney during the 1970’s.
In 2020 a mould was made of the 1970’s plaster cast and a series of 10 white glazed ceramic slip casts commenced.
Bas relief Triptych: Arthur Phillip, Henry Parkes, William Bligh c1965 Plaster Height: 40cm Murch Estate