Artistic License: Lauren White Murphy - The Gloss Magazine

Artistic License: Lauren White Murphy

Known for her vibrant abstract murals and pop art paintings, Irish artist Lauren White Murphy has contributed to a new exhibition highlighting the wide-ranging symptoms of MS from which she suffers. Sprinkling her artworks with gold dust Murphy says is a reminder of how precious life is, and she hopes to inspire others with her positivity. The artist, who lives between Dublin and LA, tells us about her work …

Tell us about the starting point of the new exhibition “The Art of MS: Symptoms under the Spotlight” and the artwork you have contributed?

MS Ireland announced a call for entries. I knew I wanted to jump on board – I have worked with them for World MS Day [on May 30] and designed the limited edition sweatshirt for 2022 which is available on their website ( I had several pieces to submit but went with the one that will be on display in Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute on Pearse Street, (above). My artwork for this exhibition, called “Flare Up” demonstrates the multiple sclerosis symptoms I experience including pain, weakness, spasms and cognitive issues which often leave me feeling delayed in time. The diamond dust used in the art, which is a staple in my work, serves as a reminder of how precious life is despite living with MS; I believe in taking the positive and colour out of the negative and darkness.

Having worked in music and song-writing, based in LA and also Dublin, how did you evolve into art?

My background is in music; I was a successful songwriter and ghost-writer. I’m focusing on visual art at the moment and I am so fortunate to have a studio in Dublin and Los Angeles. I work odd hours. Once I get an idea in my head I have to create it, or start it at least. I’m lucky I can create anywhere; I had my very first studio in my apartment in LA. I had no experience painting or drawing. It definitely began as a therapy for me. But as I progressed and my paintings got larger in scale, I had to keep upgrading my studios to larger ones when I got back to Dublin. But as my family knows – I can set up shop anywhere.

Your art is influenced by the Pop Art movement and you have created many celebrity portraits – can you tell us the starting point for these?

I was always fond of the pop art movement and it has definitely contributed to my style. Actress Selma Blair was diagnosed with MS just after me and I knew what she was going through so I began my portraiture with her. I got in touch with her and her management team and they were so lovely. As I was based in Hollywood, it progressed to artworks of the Oscars, old Hollywood actors, Warner Brother characters and then everything and anything that interested me.

I am interested in all genres now, but I think I got into portraiture initially because I am fascinated by people. I’ve painted people who have had a huge influence on me – from Irish musicians to broadcasters. I really enjoyed painting Vicky Phelan, who captured the hearts of our nation; I wanted to do something thoughtful, a vibrant joyous piece, for her and her family. She was so delighted and grateful.

I also painted a mural in Crumlin for local Dublin 12 legends; I especially like doing things in my local community, and it was great to see other people’s reactions. I also painted an explosion of colour with favourite superhero characters for Scoil Chronain in Rathcoole in Co Dublin. It was for the classmates of Conor, Darragh and Carla McGinley who died tragically in 2020. I also ended up doing a piece for Andrew McGinley.

My priority is to take away other people’s pain and in so doing, it ignites something in me.

I have recently learned how to frame my own art which is a new love of mine, because I get to custom make everything from scratch. It also means I have complete vision and control from start to finish.

When were you diagnosed with MS and how have your symptoms manifested?

I was diagnosed in April 2018 – six weeks before my 30th birthday. It began with the left side of my body. It took about four years of tests in the US before I was properly diagnosed. It began with spasms, cognitive issues, problems with vision, foggy thinking, and numb arms and legs. I was always one to brush medical stuff under the carpet and tried to ignore the symptoms, but everything got so intense and I was always out of sorts. I was falling and very unsteady … it was just a very tough time. Once I found out I had MS, it was a relief to finally get answers and know which steps to take.

At the time I was in Los Angeles alone and found it very difficult. Initially I was petrified of talking about the changes that were happening to me, it became overwhelming. That’s when I turned to painting and it really brought me back to life. Here I was in the US writing music and also acting and it’s as if it fell out of my head. I needed an outlet for my creativity. I always say that turning to art was like a light switch being turned on in my head. 

You are an inspiration to others living with MS – do you have a mentor yourself?

MS Ireland has provided a great network of support. I am a very private person and have my close family and friends, and a wonderful partner who all support me and mentor me in different ways.

When I experience pain and flare-ups, I have tried to teach my body to give in and rest, a total contrast to my former fast-paced lifestyle. I do have a high pain threshold but can often feel defeated. On the days when I am “bad”, I have to take it easy, spend it in bed and not be too hard on myself. It’s only recently that I have trained myself to listen to my body.

While MS has changed my life and flare-ups can be so unexpected, I am so grateful because it gave me this gift that I can share with others, and to be a positive influence gives me the strength to keep going and in turn to help others to keep going!

Need to Know: Lauren’s artwork will be featured in “The Art of MS: Symptoms under the Spotlight”, a collaborative event from MS Ireland in partnership with Novartis Ireland. The exhibition will be open from Thursday May 26 – Wednesday, June 1 in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute on Pearse Street, Dublin 2. It features twelve artworks by people living with MS and aims to highlight the wide-ranging symptoms of the disease it is World MS Day on Monday, May 30. Follow Lauren White Murphy on Instagram @lolopopworld.


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