The first UK solo exhibition of work by Cig Harvey will open at Beetles + Huxley this September. ‘Holding the Blue’ will showcase 30 photographs from Harvey’s career, taken between 2003 and 2017, as a prelude to the publication of her new book ‘You an Orchestra, You a Bomb’ in November.
Often highly orchestrated, Harvey’s early works created a fantasy version of her own life experiences. Using herself as a model, each image was self-referential and meticulously mapped out to include specific metaphors, symbols and content. As her work progressed, Harvey introduced increasing amounts of spontaneity and branched out to include other models, such as neighbours, her daughter and husband. In Harvey’s most recent work, which focuses on her home town in Maine, mundane locations and events are depicted with strange colour combinations or unexplained light, which lend the images an unsettling air.
Heavy with implied narrative, each photograph is a vignette the visual equivalent of a short story. Seemingly random images of people, places and things, when combined, suggest the passing of time and seasons. The subjects of Harvey’s photographs are usually concealed, whether it be through careful cropping, distance or her use of lighting for example, a child behind a curtain, a woman obscured by the dappled light through a car window or a figure facing away from the camera into the sea. The symbols used throughout Harvey’s work suggest a complex jigsaw to be pieced together by the viewer.
Born in Devon in 1973, Harvey began taking photographs aged thirteen. She moved to the US in 1999 to begin an MFA in photography at Rockport University and began to take photographs “about” things instead simply “of” things, telling her own stories rather than other peoples’.
Harvey’s work is included in the collections of major museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. She has been a nominee for the John Gutmann fellowship and the Santa Fe Prize, and a finalist for the BMW Prize at Paris Photo and for the Prix Virginia, an international photography prize for women. Harvey’s work has been published in three monographs, ‘You Look At Me Like An Emergency’, 2012, ‘Gardening at Night’, 2015 and the forthcoming ‘You An Orchestra, You A Bomb’, which is being released this coming November, all published by Schilt Publishing.