Going "Frame-us" in Johor Baru

Simon Murray celebrates the 30th anniversary of Onspec Ontic Ltd with an exhibition of his eyewear collection themed, “Frame-us” at Eh He art café and gallery, Johor Baru.

A range of Simon Murray handmade spectacles
Fondly known by his moniker, Mr Specs, Murray has exhibited his eyewear collection since 2000 in various cities including London, Sydney, Los Angeles and in Chania, Greece.  This April, his collection is being showcased in JB for the first time.  In August, this collection will be displayed at Mount Austin before going on show in Beijing, China.

Murray’s Onspec Ontic, was set up 30 years ago in London on April 1, the same day as his mother’s birthday.  His mother, Rosie Murray, took charge of his collection of eyewear when his first shop was set up at Berman’s-Onspec Ontic Ltd in 1986.

Simon Murray [Right] speaking to the media
in a preview session at Eh He art cafe and gallery
The original collection of eyewear came from L & H Nathan's, a costume house that supplies to theatre, film and television since 1790, where Murray started working with them at age 15 in 1971.

He has since garnered one of the biggest private collections of spectacles which he loaned and made for films and television.  Some of his handmade glasses were used for blockbuster movies like Star Wars, James Bond, Mission Impossible, Harry Potter and Batman.

Murray was responsible for helping to create many of the most iconic bespectacled characters on screen.  Original frames in Murray’s collection have been worn in period dramas or appeared on films, theatre productions and commercials either on loan or specifically designed and handmade for key characters. 

His collection of vintage and classic spectacle frames
that were popular with vintage and classic car drivers
Among them were the spectacles used by Sean Connery in his role as Professor Henry Senior, father of Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and spectacles used by Daniel Radcliffe in his role as Harry Potter.

Murray came to JB in 2015 as the key crowd costumier for the first Marco Polo series project with Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios and when he extended his stay here, he discovered his innate affinity for this city.

This was because when Murray met the Southern Tigers in team Johor Darul Takzim FC, he saw the three stars in the club’s crest that mirrors the three stars in the Murray family’s coat of arms!

Recognise these Malaysian bespectacled personalities? 
The signatures of Malaysia’s football champions 2014, next to the club’s crest is a priceless collection and this is proudly displayed in the “Frame-us” exhibition.

While in JB, Murray was also inspired to start designing a pair of spectacles frames for a very important person here – His Royal Highness, the Johor Sultan.

As Murray explored the city and its suburbs, he collected more local artefacts that featured – what else – but spectacle frames.  These include old magazine covers and photos of local bespectacled personalities who sported interesting eyewear!

Check out the cool frames used by these local pop stars!
He also enjoys asking people to draw a pair of spectacles that best represent themselves.  Murray did this when he met with Member of Parliament, Tan Sri Dato’ Shahrir Abdul Samad, and this drawing of a unique pair of spectacles that represents him, is also displayed in “Frame-us.”

"I've always wanted to do an exhibition of my spectacles in JB,” said Murray while he was setting up the display in the gallery.  Murray, talking passionately about spectacles, is also an advocate of mirror lenses that protect eyes from the intensity of our tropical sun.

A drawing by Simon Murray that
featured the subject wearing spectacles!
Among the exhibits in “Frame-us” (pronounced “framous” as in “famous”) are a collection of vintage and classic spectacle frames that were popular with vintage and classic car drivers.  Murray is excited that we have a Malaysia Singapore Vintage Car Register here and extends a warm welcome to its members to visit the exhibition, which is open to the public from April 1.

Families, adults and students are welcome to enjoy the exhibition and join a drawing and photography competition where the winners stand to win interesting prizes. 

Just come into the gallery and draw a picture with a subject wearing a pair of spectacles!

Photography buffs may create a photograph or a collage of photographs of people wearing interesting pairs of eyewear.  Express your own creativity and the participating drawings and photographs will be displayed in the exhibition.

A unisex pair of Dogs Bollocks sunglasses by
Simon Murray is the prize for the most-like photograph
Visitors will be given small stickers to paste on their favourite drawing or photo, to indicate a “Like” and the drawing or photo with the most “Likes” will be declared the winner at the close of the exhibition.

The prize for the most-liked drawing is a copy of Harry Potter 18K white rolled gold glasses while the most-liked photograph should win a unisex pair of Dogs Bollocks sunglasses by Simon Murray, only sold at the Ace Café in London.  This cool pair of glasses with “skull-fit” temples and non-slip rubber details on the arms, come with interchangeable lenses to wear with the changing weather.

The “Frame-us” exhibition is open daily 10am to 4.30pm from now till April 30.  Eh He art café and gallery is at the corner of Jalan Trus and Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, at No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Baru.

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