STATEMENT

Kirsty Harris

b. 1978 Nottingham, brought up in Yorkshire, based in east London..

New series

I am currently developing a series of works based upon images of mushroom clouds. Combining both oil paintings and silverpoint drawings, while still small, these new pieces all differ in size and format.

The first drawing I’ve completed – Able, is a depiction of the Atom bomb test that took place on Bikini Atoll on 1st July 1946 by the USA.

I’m aiming for a quiet sense of unease, to harness the beauty of the media, capturing ginormous fleeting moments of horror in a consuming & meticulous way.

I’ve recently been exploring how to display drawings and paintings in installation settings.

Miniature Oil Paintings

These paintings explore an on-going engagement with different aspects of history and modern culture, implicit horror and apposed beauty.​ My Saints paintings involved characters who were clothed only in their underwear, this was a development from previous series which embodied people wearing different disguises, masks or actual clowns. I predominantly worked from real subjects, sketching and photographing them in poses sourced from historical paintings, before isolating the figures in my compositions. Progressing from sketches to final works digitally and through collage, sometimes incorporating recognisable settings from cult media such as Twin peaks or floors collected from other sources.

They seem very simple at first viewing, but covertly explore a lot of the visual language I’m drawn to.

​ Sebastian (pose taken from Luini Bernardino’s painting 1526) is portrayed without the accompanying props that usually identify his sainthood, his martyrdom veiled with only the pose and title to indicate his identity.
There is much uncertainty and ambiguity in these works. An indeterminate source of light shines brightly on the figures, bleaching out their defining features.

Miniature Silverpoint drawings

These works are my first silverpoint drawings, completed in the last few weeks, embodying a different element to my work.

Silverpoint is a traditional drawing technique used  before  graphite was discovered.
Having studied silverpoint drawings by old masters such as Da Vinci and Durer, I was incredibly impressed with the fine detail that could be achieved and decided to learn how to use the medium. The gesso surface, on the oak panel, has to be as perfect as possible to allow the fine strokes from the sharpened pure silver wire. Decisiveness is key when using the technique as lines cannot be rubbed out once laid down & the fact that the drawings are literally made of silver alludes to the romantic notions that art is alchemy and something can be made from nothing.

I have started drawing anatomical specimens of disease, the beauty of the medium creates a paradox with the subject matter.
I hope the scale and meticulous nature of my work will awaken the audience’s curiosity drawing them in close to examine and dissect the drawings.

Recently I have been considering how to display my drawings in installation settings.

Exhibitions include – WW Gallery, Schwartz Gallery, Culture Fix NYC, ZAP, Matt Roberts Arts, William Morris Gallery, Three Colts Gallery, Drawers Gallery, Hackney Empire, The Wellcome Institute & Hoxton Square Gallery.

My work is held in private collections in the UK and abroad including The Museum of Everything (collaboration with Margaret Frethey)

WP-SILVERPOINT-HEART

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Words by Sophie Hill – Featured in the Postcard Wall Project No. 310

After attending the ALAS Summer Residency exhibition at Matt Roberts Arts July 2012

​Harris’ beautifully painted miniature paintings are part of Matt Roberts Arts first exhibition in their new space – the old Nettie Horn on Vyner Street. An eclectic mix of mediums, the exhibition is intriguing and interestingly pulled together, perhaps reflective of the creative relationship of these eighteen artists that blossomed out of their collective residency. A variance in shape, size and approach keeps us occupied; the atmosphere is playful, full of experimentation, and the works seem to bounce off of each other in discussion.

Harris’ paintings are immediately noticeable; they are small and crisp, amid bold paintings of colour and mixed dilution. Hers are dark, with colour carefully painted in layers, creating a surface reflective of delicate technique and time. There is an essence of Dutch painting to her style, encouraged by the dark backgrounds or, as in the work in the exhibition, a clever perspective creating checkerboard floor. This black and white floor is particularly successful; the squares open the painting up before us, the lines spilling over the edge of the painting, they seem to move as keys on a piano – playing in a ripple that push her protagonist towards us. Harris’ figures are similarly crisp, with wonderfully milky and mottled flesh that shapes their bodies realistically before us. The contrast is then acute with their lack of face; painted flat in one colour, unlike the rest of the body, the face is a haunting mask of non-description and ambiguity.