Principal Boy: Maz Murray

27 Mar-15 Jun 2024

Focal Point Gallery
Southend-on-Sea SS1 1NS


Focal Point Gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition by Maz Murray (b. 1995) an artist filmmaker based in London and Basildon.

Murray uses satire, surrealism, melodrama, and humour to talk about queer and trans identity, class, and the complexities of public life. They repurpose and subvert pop cultural tropes such as music video, TV documentary, talk show, social media content and cinema. This exhibition, part of FPG x Jerwood Presents, is made possible by Jerwood Developing Artists Fund, which has been awarded to Focal Point Gallery for 2024–25.

This exhibition will include newly commissioned and recent work looking at the theatricality of fabricated spaces, from stage sets to new towns, theme parks to club nights, shopping centres to would-be utopias. Building on Murray’s recent short films and writings, this immersive installation will include sets, props and moving image, reflecting on oral histories of storytelling and pop culture as living archive. A particular focus will be the figure of the Principal boy in pantomime, historically played by a woman in drag, which continues an archetype found in music hall, mummers’ plays, traditionally enacted by troupes of amateur masked male actors, and mystery plays drawn from fairy and folk tales. The artist aims to draw parallels between the right to roam and the right to self-expression, by exploring journeys across time and place– from country to town to suburb to city – and the enclosure of ‘othered’ identities.

The Jerwood Developing Artists Fund provides grants for arts organisations to deliver development programmes for early-career artists, makers, curators and producers in all artforms across the UK, offering transformative opportunities for individuals at a critical moment in their practice. The funds will support the production of two first solo institutional exhibitions of two early-career artists working in and across artforms, with additional professional development opportunities, resources and mentoring at a pivotal point of their career. This partnership builds on Focal Point Gallery’s commitment and reputation for identifying and supporting the most innovative early-career artists.

About Maz Murray:

Maz Murray (b. 1995) lives and works between London and Basildon. They have been included in various group exhibitions and screenings, including at Turner Contemporary, Margate, 2023; Outfest, LA, 2022; KinoKraat, Amsterdam, 2022; Mascara Film Club, London, 2021; QueerCircles TV, London, 2020; Short Film Festival and Artists’ Film Club, ICA, London, 2018. They recently made a short film with BFI Network. Murray graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art in 2017. Most of their film and writing work is viewable on their website: