Artist interview: Kirsty Harris
‘Reactions are good. React people!’
What is your art practice?
I currently make silverpoint drawings on oak blocks, cyanotypes, paintings on glass/linen, audio works and short films based around the imagery and data collected on nuclear explosions. I’m interested in the sinister pageant of man’s attempt at dominance, when the honour of victory is denatured into a manifestation of nihilism.
Who or what influences your work?
Within the subject matter it is the little stories and myths that have been bandied around and often what happens in the background of these extraordinary events.
I recently saw an exhibition of Bas Jan Ader’s and I find him very intriguing, I loved his films about falling. Sometimes the most simple works are the best.
Which artist do you admire and wish you could have been?
I admire Gauguin’s work, I think if I could have any painting to keep it would be one of his. I wouldn’t want to be him. I also admire some of my peers for their energy, generosity and the way they get things done.
Is there a piece of work you wish you had never made, why?
I think during the making of every piece of work, even if it is completely unsuccessful, you learn something – so I don’t wish away any of them.
If time and money were no object what would you make?
I’d make some bronze pieces and would have a studio with a higher ceiling so that I could make larger drawings.
What would you change about the art school system now, apart of course from the fees?
I think right now is the time for reactions, with everything happening in the world I’d like to see a bit more instant reaction. I went to a few MA shows recently, one in particular the week after Brexit and there wasn’t a sticker or poster in the corridor or any reference to it in the work anywhere. It was all too fluffy. Reactions are good, react people! It left me a little disillusioned for a couple of weeks. I feel a split widening between large commercial galleries and smaller project spaces etc. I’ve been talking about it quite a bit between my peers. I don’t really feel like they are listening to the work, but rather looking out for warm names that they can easily turn hot. Maybe I need to listen more to them but I find much more interesting and edgy work in smaller spaces. So I wonder for the artists coming out of art schools hoping for representation etc would benefit from a large gallery in the long run? Our “art world” is wherever we are with our peers and it feels exciting at the moment despite the incredibly dire political situation, I hope we can band together. Art schools should make the most of the momentum that is to come, encourage reactionary work, there’s a lot of anger out there from all different angles and not so much is coming through. Bang it out, voice your anger at injustice and division, not everything has to be perfectly finished. Stop playing safe.