The Murray Collection

Our Projects

Crùbag was commissioned to design a special collection celebrating 130 years of the Scottish Association for Marine Science and the legacy of SAMS’ founding father, Sir John Murray, an oceanographer whose dedication, vision and adventurous spirit still inspire the field.

The Murray Napkins

Sir John Murray 1841-1914

As a young scientist, John Murray was asked to join what would prove to be a historic expedition. The HMS Challenger set sail from Portsmouth, England in 1872 and spent nearly four years exploring the world’s oceans. Murray made seminal discoveries about ocean sediments and marine trenches, and he developed new techniques for collecting samples of marine life from great depths. Years after the expedition was completed, he carefully edited and published the reports, work which helped establish modern oceanography.

In April 1884, Murray opened the Scottish Marine Station in a floating laboratory called the Ark, near Edinburgh. An era of grand ocean expeditions had given birth to a new science, and facilities were needed to expand the research and train students. That research station became The Scottish Association for Marine Science, or SAMS, an internationally known centre of ocean research now located on the edge of the Atlantic in western Scotland.

A complete copy of the original Challenger Reports is now housed at SAMS. In a 1910 newspaper article about the famous expedition, Murray describes finding fish that carried their own illumination, fish that walked or were so transparent the workings of their organs could be clearly seen. Murray and his colleagues on the expedition discovered over 4,000 new marine species. Their hand drawings capture the lives of these curious creatures with a delicate vibrancy. These remarkable images inspire the collection.

A  poem by Sir John Murray written for his friend and benefactor Laurence Pullar.

The stately truth, the solid fact
The learned name, the simple act
Much cultured thought, artistic skill
From first to last these volumes fill.

From troubled surf and bounding wave
Down to old Ocean’s deepest cave
The light which science there has shed
Is dimly through these pages spread.
While rocky islet, coral land
And savage arts before you stand.
The outer world as here displayed
Is not in fancy’s dress arrayed.

How dull, how tame it all appears
Viewed through a vista of ten years!
Where the discomforts deep and long
Where is the merry joke and song?
The vivid loves and burning hate
That oft did comrades separate?
The disappointments keen and sharp
That nearly broke the stoutest heart?
The thrilling transports of delight
At each new capture day and night.
The brilliant theories, all disproved
The failures that us deeply moved?
Those, too subjective mean or base
To find within these leaves a place.

We launched the Murray Collection and were part of the celebrations to commemorate SAMS 130th Anniversary and the Legacy of Sir John Murray on 14th November 2014.

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