Caroline Jane Harris, Radial (Green), 2014. Hand-cut layered pigment prints on paper; 104 x 104 x 7 cm. Image courtesy of Scream and G. Schwendinger.
Caroline Jane Harris’ hand-cut digital prints and paper-cuts are inspired by the geometric, linear and circular motifs found throughout nature. Through them, she explores the similarities and tensions between natural life forms and man-made systems.
Midway through her first solo exhibition at Scream London, Traction meets artist Caroline Jane Harris to hear more about the energy and the inspiration behind her complex and delicate compositions.
Your practice is necessarily very labor-intensive. How long do you tend to spend on a piece of work?
The actual cutting part is the most time-consuming and labor-intensive, but also the most rewarding. This part takes weeks (for something small) to months for larger work. However, I also spend a fair bit of time working with the photographs and compositions on the computer. In Photoshop you could go on forever tweaking and changing small things as each input works as chaos theory, dramatically changing the final outcome. Contrary to this the cutting element of the work has a determined start and end point with the progress documented at each stage.
Caroline Jane Harris, Arboreal Matter, 2014. Hand-cut layered matt paper; 79 x 103 x 7 cm. Image courtesy of Scream and G. Schwendinger.
Your working process stems from the historic Japanese art of Kirigami. How does this technique play out in a contemporary artistic practice?
My concerns have always been with process, drawing and moreover, reduction techniques coming from a printmaking background, however, there seems to have been a turn back towards the artist’s hand and skill being visible in contemporary art. Furthermore paper has become such a ubiquitous part of modern life yet its popularity as a medium for artists is becoming ever greater. I find it interesting that the value of paper and skill have shifted and become inverted over time and across borders.
Caroline Jane Harris, Limbs, 2014. Hand-cut layered pigment prints on paper; 103.5 x 103.5 x 7 cm. Image courtesy of Scream and G. Schwendinger.
Your work is the product of both traditional craft and modern technology, yet both of these processes derive from the intervention of the hand. Does one or other feel more intimate to you?
I have a more ‘emotional’ attachment to the cutting part of the work as I have a material consciousness of the paper; it’s properties and how my actions affect the outcome. The cutting requires concentration utilizing a different part of the brain to that of the photo editing. For me, the cutting is where the magic happens. As I get more attuned to the rhythm of the pattern, I feel a greater understanding and connection to nature and gain satisfaction from seeing the work come to fruition.
The natural world is frequently perceived to be at odds with modern existence, yet the patterns you draw from nature suggest an over-riding symmetry present in all aspects of life. What is your take on the relationship between nature and the man-made, industrial elements of contemporary culture?
Civilisation has generated many complex networks such as roads, telephone communication, cities and most recently the Internet, which are growing, expanding and mutating in response to changes and demand. Akin to an organism these are sustained by the interconnections between their component parts and share many characteristics with the natural world. For me, nature is the key to understanding the man-made world around us and heightens our appreciation for naturally occurring structures.
Caroline Jane Harris, Nexus, 2014. Hand-cut layered pigment prints on paper; 103 x 103 x 7 cm. Image courtesy of Scream and G. Schwendinger.
Are there new projects on the horizon for you?
In July I am doing a residency in unique woodland in a small village in Cyprus. The project aims to develop the relationship between woodland and human beings and allows time for reflection on the relationship between nature and artist’s practice.
I am also starting a Masters in Fine Art in September: I’m really looking forward to having a peer group to critique and discuss work with on a more regular basis than I currently have access to.
Caroline Jane Harris’ inaugural solo exhibition ‘Anatomy of the Arboreal’ runs until 2 August 2014 at Scream London, 27-28 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DH.
For more information, visit http://www.screamlondon.com or go to http://www.carolinejaneharris.com to find out more about the artists’ practice.