Harriet Selka: Bones

Wasps presents BONES, an exhibition from Harriet Selka at South Block.

Exhibition Open: December 17 – February 8
Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm

Private view: December 16, 5pm-8pm

Bones is based on a collection of recently re-discovered newspaper cuttings, photographs and memories from 1995, when Harriet was front page news worldwide for breakthrough fertility preservation treatment in an infant cancer patient. Viewing these old records through the lens of today, Harriet has amalgamated the hope and celebration of the time with the pain and uncertainty of struggles that all young adults face. Many of these images have triggered memories of experiences and stories of the time in the artist’s mind.

This collection of paintings explores themes of fertility, hope, uncertainty and gender. Sometimes the work explores these themes in obvious ways, for example a literal translation of the contradiction of a page 2 article in the Daily Star on fertility preservation of an infant long before she knew the significance or meaning, with an angelic innocent photograph alongside, next to a page 3 girl in all her glory. Sometimes the themes are explored in more subtle ways, such an abstract representation of the twisted, confusing, hopeless, hopeful, celebration of the physicality of the artist. Each piece tells a different story and together the collection allows the artist to take control of her own narrative.

Artist Statement

People and the spaces they inhabit are at the core of Harriet’s artistic practice. A body movement, a vulnerable private moment, or the way someone occupies a space often inspires the beginning of a painting. She seeks to record emotion, energy and truth.

Harriet is currently exploring societal expectations of young adults through her perception of how she fits, or doesn’t fit into these conventions. Harriet is taking ownership of her narrative through these paintings.

As a survivor of childhood cancer, Harriet is acutely aware of the fragility of the human condition. There is a conflict between Harriet’s desire to evoke strong emotion and her fear of exposing herself which creates an emotive tension. The conversation created between subtlety and vigour in Harriet’s mark-making suggests a precarious sense of fragility. What is left unspoken offers space to reflect and imagine.

2021 | Figurative Art Now, Federation of British Artists / Mall Galleries | SSA Contemporary Figures, Scottish Society of Artists | Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, Series 8 contestant | Splint, studio of David Mach RA, London, UK
2020 | The Essential School of Painting Scholarship, awarded for The Bigger Picture | Harvest with West Cork Creates, Skibbereen, Ireland
2019 | Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize, selected artist | Fresh Zest (Solo Show), Pop Up Edinburgh, 17 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, UK
2018 | Scottish Portrait Awards, selected artist (also selected in 2017)
2017 | Royal Scottish Academy Latimer Award, winner

www.harrietselka.com | @harriet.selka