Bridging the gap between subconsciousness and reality with Harriet Florence Farmer

Harriet Florence Farmer

Based in London, UK.

2016-2018 Royal College of Art,MA
2013-2016 Brighton University, BA

What inspired you to be an artist? When did you begin expressing yourself through creative avenues?

I try to recall this moment on many occasions, and each time I arrive at a different memory.  I can never seem to pin point that particular eureka! …because there are many that highlight how important it is to follow my instinct.

Tell us about your artistic journey: where did you receive an art education, or are you are self-taught or currently studying? Where are you from and where do you currently live and practice art?

One memory would be when I was around 8. I used to obsessively paint and draw this specific flower over and over, ending up with a pile of these different variations. My choice to archive these innocent variables was out of curiosity, that no matter how many I made, I would never make the same picture as the last. There was something in that. I don’t think I had much of a choice, just gentle reminders that being an Artist was much more than just ‘making pictures’ and more about the ways of experiencing and looking at the world.

I grew up in Brighton,UK –  a small vibrant city on the coast. It’s a hub for creativity and has an amazing music scene, so I feel really lucky to call that my hometown. I actually ended up studying my degree at Brighton University because it has such a great art school and I wasn’t quite ready to leave. I then embarked upon a Masters in London at Royal College of Art in Painting where I met with the most passionate, inspiring individuals in Art & Design. I think we all arrive there in need for impact. RCA is charged with emotional energy, voices of all octaves, there to define or refine a practise they know is worth the tumultuous journey those two years have to offer. The luxury of this intensity is that you and your work are guaranteed positive change.

What ideas are you currently exploring in your work?

After the whirlwind of RCA and London’s bustle, I enjoyed a summer of reflection that set me up for my residency in the Midlands. I wanted to challenge my practise in both extremities, so now I am exploring my works’ response to isolation.

I think the over riding theme in my work is bridging the gap between subconsciousness and reality. There, lies endless potential of sensitive narratives.  I am interested in tension, sensation and history of the mark- so my paintings become somewhat, emblems of energy.

I am living in a small village during my residency that has an abundance of history, so I am currently exploring the notion of the ruin in greater detail, to try and unpack some correlations. They actually have frequent visits from archeologists here, and it’s said there is a huge amount yet to be discovered- under the cricket pitch. Unfortunately cricket is very popular so I can’t imagine a miraculous discovery is going to happen anytime soon, but I shall romanticise at the very prospect.

Which mediums do you use in your work, and what appeals to you about them?

Predominantly oil on canvas mixed with varied sediments either from specific place or remnants from my sculptures in the studio. Each work is built up over time and these layers vary with transparencies and weight. I like to include the sediments because it’s a direct relation to the cycle of time. It also provides a gritty/abrasive quality that challenges the harmony of oil paint.

Tell us about some of the highlights of your artistic career, such as memorable shows/exhibitions where you have exhibited or publications and blogs where your work has been featured?

A good few years ago now, I had the incredible opportunity to be resident artist at Glyndebourne Opera house, where I could freely attend the matinee performances. The richness of the operatics and orchestra just blew me away- It was then that I knew painting and music really did have direct correlations. The energy exerted from the individual through movement and breathe was another way of painting a picture to me. Alongside this, I also had the wonderful opportunity to run workshops with ‘Raise your voice’ an opera project for local people living with dementia and their carers. Working alongside musicians and singers from the Royal Academy of Music, we created an environment of art and music, that stimulated precious memories through the means of music and expression.

What’s next for you? Feel free to share any of your future plans such as exhibitions, travels, residencies, collaborations or any other interesting information relating to your art career.

As I had mentioned before, I have just begun a residency in the Midlands, a week or so in now. So it is a very exciting, promising year ahead for the development of my practise.  I have a solo exhibition coming up in 2019, and another exciting plan to curate a show up here in the Midlands- watch that space!

Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?

I am continuously inspired by the work of my peers; painters/non painters. I surround myself with creative, conscientious, graceful individuals that celebrate the scope of expression. So it would be impossible to pick from such a variety of inspiring Artists.  However, there is one book that I always refer back to if I need a little guidance; Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke, that every sensitive observer of the world must read.

Can you share any fun facts about you or something that you like to do apart from making art?

Apart from visiting a lot of exhibitions and travelling as and when I can, I love to go to the cinema with a salty and sweet popcorn mix, be it an art house cinema expedition or a classic odeon to watch a hollywood cheese, the whole experience is second to none. So are the conversations you hear in the toilets after the film.

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