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Creative Clout: Sancho Kokomo Murphy

Josephine Walsh

It’s hard to read anything about Sancho Kokomo Murphy without thinking she is possibly the coolest person in Canberra.

Although, she probably wouldn’t see it as such.

“I just try to stay real and honest,” she says modestly. “[There are always] lots of mistakes and tears, and relentless hard work to get through 
the grind.”

Getting through the grind is an understatement. Sancho has created a permanent public space for the lowbrow art community to exhibit and sell their work, and connect with each.

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Photography by Dayne Edward

In doing so, she’s helped to bring the thriving Canberra underground art scene out into the open.

“I don’t think I’m necessarily re-inventing the wheel here or anything,” insists Murphy. “There’s always been shops like mine all over Australia and the globe – less so in Canberra.”

Her brainchild ‘Sancho’s Dirty Laundry‘ includes the Lowbrow Gallery, part exhibition and performance space, which is complemented by a bar managed by Beach Burrito Civic. There’s also a shop that stocks graphic artist supplies and a diverse range of merch designed and made by Canberrans.

“I want to build awareness about supporting local independent artists and designers, and why it’s important to shop at small, local businesses and give the little guy a go,” expresses Murphy. “Dirty Laundry will always remain an independent venture and a way for me to invite others to collaborate, experiment and play around with my ideas and experiences without having to ask for permission, [as well as about] taking ownership of my mistakes and successes.”

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Photography by Dayne Edward

What Sancho has created and sustained hasn’t come about overnight, or without challenges. Facing the hurdle of not being taken seriously due to of sexism and ageism has been one of the toughest aspects of the Dirty Laundry journey.

“Although … I kinda like being disarming and giving an 
air of naivety,” Sancho says mischievously. “Don’t let the friendly smirk on my face fool you – there’s a lot more going on in here,” she says as she points to her head, then to her stomach.

THREE THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT SANCHO MURPHY

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My idea of a nightmare is “Being trapped in a network of being paid with ‘exposure’ and ‘cases of beer’, instead of money (I would totally accept the first two if I could dump a bucketload of ‘exposure’ at the bank and go pay my bills with such).”

I can’t live without “My smartphone.”

A powerful experience that resonated with me … “I’ve been out and had people recognise a t-shirt I’ve designed, my logo, or complimented the shop [without knowing who I am]. These occurrences are few and far between, but they seem to be so well-timed in instances I’m doubting myself and I’ve risked too much, or all I’ve got. It’s positive reinforcement that people are picking up what I’m putting down and it motivates me to keep pushing. It’s a slow grind of the good kind.”

Feature image by Martin Ollman

You can read this article in full and more in our latest edition of Magazine: Break The Mould. Available for free while stocks last. Click here to find your closest stockist. 

Magazine Break The Mould Cover

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Josephine Walsh

Jose Walsh loves A-line skirts, the arts, and all types of pasta. She moved to Canberra in 2011 to study at ANU, and follow her dream of working in a museum. With an education background, she's currently harnessing her love of connecting people in a social media and PR role in a national institution. She loves great film, rambling about her succulents, and finding the perfect spot to share with her favourite people. More about the Author

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