Visual Intelligences Research Project

Exhibitions : Inspiration To Order : Beth Harland

Zone 15
152 x 114 cm
Oil on canvas

Interactive Documentation of Zone 15

The process of producing Zone 15 has been documented in an interactive application. Although the piece was not designed to be viewed on the web it can be viewed by clicking here. Download times will vary depending on your connection speed but please be patient. 

Beth Harland studied Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford and the Royal College of Art, London, and is currently undertaking PhD research at University of Southampton. She has received a number of research awards including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Arts Council of England, and a fellowship at the British School at Rome. She has exhibited extensively nationally including: John Moores Exhibition, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Dean Clough, Halifax; Arnolfini, Bristol; Gasworks, London; Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth; Five Years, London; Liverpool Biennale; Norwich Gallery; APT, London, and internationally including: British School at Rome; Villa Crispi, Naples; Kolo Gallery, Gdansk; UFF Gallery and Studio Gallery, Budapest; 5020 Galerie, Salzburg. Her work has been published in a number of catalogues and books including Unframed ; the politics and practices of women’s contemporary painting and Reading Matter, documenting a collaboration between four artists and four writers. Other recent collaborations include artist group Machine Room; a blueprint for painting. She has curated and co-curated a number of exhibitions including Closer Still, a Southern Arts Touring exhibition Winchester Gallery and Artsway, and several exhibitions for Gasworks as a gallery committee member. Other professional activities include membership of the Abbey Council, British School at Rome. She has taught widely in Fine Art at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and is currently Director of Graduate School, Senior Lecturer at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

Artist's Statement on Process

In the recent series of paintings entitled Zone, the making process is structured as a ‘conversation’ between the painting’s surface and the digital screen, the image developing through alternate modes of painting and digital reworking. Photographs of prosaic objects, ordered on a table top, are repeatedly manipulated until spatial order becomes disjointed and traditional genres of still life and landscape seem to merge.

Central issues in the working process include the impact of visual technologies on aspects of space and duration in painting (the digital offering painting an expanded topography) and concepts of rhizomatic space, fragmentation, re-inscription and appropriation. Fragmentary quotations from other paintings and various image sources are woven into a complex surface. Chance and mechanical projection procedures combine to produce a double space in which oppositions of figure/ground begin to disperse, enabling multiple positions, fluid structure, slippage. This spatial, and temporal investigation is also linked with filmic encounters such as Tarkovsky’s Stalker, and references various writings including Deleuze and Proust.

The process of copying/translation from digital print-out to painting, is a form of mapping, bridging the retinal and the tactile. Due to the fragmentation of the original image I’m perpetually losing my place and finding it again, and this experience transfers to the viewer, caught in the movement between clarity and indistinction – in flux. The work tends to operate in the domain of haptic visuality or close range vision; the boundaries are blurred and flawed, images partially absorbed and fleetingly described. The haptic is a form of looking that tends to move rather than focus, and one that alludes to senses other than the visual; an embodied form of seeing. The physicality of the surfaces in the paintings is important, all are made in oil paint but numerous different approaches to marking the surface and different consistencies/mediums are adopted to evoke sensory experience. The play of difference and fragment, yet coherence, becomes a delicate balance.

The fragility of boundaries, definition of inside and outside, is referenced through camouflage and formal decisions such as the use of the coloured border. Like the framers device ‘passe partout’, it interfaces the interior and exterior of the work and is linked to Derrida’s notion of parergon - without it the depiction is exposed, too present.

I approach making strategically, sometimes mechanistically but always with an interest in the meaning engendered by the material and its behaviour, viewing the matter of painting as itself a mode of address; a site for critical thinking.