Artist's Statement - Cherry Harris
From a very early age my passions have always been art, science and the nature of humanity. I consider myself to be a life-long practicing student where these disciplines have always been in fluid exchange.
My current body of work seeks to explore through the use of gesture, mark making, symbolism, metaphor and allegory the beauty in the emotional face we present to the world and its breathtaking relationship with the exquisite forces of nature. I have chosen to call the project “Flux,” because at its heart it is an exploration of motion. Our bodies and the world around us are composed of matter. Motion is the mode of existence of matter. The billions of stars that we admire on a clear night and that seem motionless to the naked eye are moving at colossal speeds. Every star is a sun with its own ring of planets. The stars and the satellites circling round them also revolve on their own axis and participate in the turning of the whole galaxy around its axis. Moreover, various parts of the galaxy have different cycles. Our galaxy moves in relation to other galaxies. Our body too is in constant motion. It has no “days off”. It never gets tired. It is composed of 37.2 trillion cells that exhibit physiologic motion. To “be” means to be in motion. The world, the universe and our physical bodies are integrating and disintegrating. Matter never attains ultimate perfection. Like matter, motion is uncreatable and indestructible. It is not introduced from outside but is included in matter, which is not inert but active. Motion is self-motion in the sense that the tendency, the impulse to change of state is inherent in matter itself: it is its own cause.
I have chosen to portray the human face because I find it fascinating from so many points of view both as scientist and artist. The face is the forward/ world facing part of our body that not only clearly demonstrates motion - structurally, physiologically and emotionally, but also creates our identity. The shape of every face is unique, it is a mobile composite of 14 bones that are always in the process of change. At a microscopic level these parts exhibit exquisite morphology and physiology that resonates with patterns and processes found in nature. My art seeks to explore and present the inter-relationship of these dynamical systems as I have experienced them in my studies and osteopathic work. I endeavour to channel my experience and the way the subject impacts on me emotionally into my work. Humanity and my contact with the human condition both informs and inspires me.
To continue the explanation for the “why” for my having chosen portraiture as my focus for study - according to Aristotle, portraiture epitomised representation in its literal sense making someone present again. I love this possibility, in conjunction with the idea of immortalising the beauty of an ordinary person or fleeting moment, gesture or emotion, whilst aspiring to capture the inner essence of the subject.
My overall vision for the work is to draw attention to the relationships of dynamical systems. Human, natural and planetary health are intricate, beautiful and codependent systems. Appreciation for this beauty might help us to celebrate, retain and perpetuate health, both personally and universally.
The above could be a stand-alone outline of conceptual undertones that form the basis for my artistic explorations. It is a synopsis of some of the ideas that I would like to try to project to the viewer. It clearly sets out the task that I will be attempting and the themes that I will be exploring.
In writing an artists statement there are decisions to be made about how much of the background to reveal. Personally, my work does have a very strong relevance to me and my physical, intellectual and emotional connection with the subject. However, I would like to “set the scene” with my artists statement, opening the minds of the viewer to the possibilities that might lie within the interpretation without being too directive or controlling about how the work is perceived. I would like to think that artistically the work might stand alone to resonate with the emotional and aesthetic sympathies of the viewer and open avenues for dialogue.
Influences & Motivations
My influences, inspirations and motivations are very wide - ranging and include philosophers, educationalists, scientists, poets, musicians, artists, life, personal experience and humanity to name but a few.
Most pertinent of the philosophers whom I have studied are Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Schopenhauer and Thoreau. They have taught me to view the world, myself and my craft profoundly and to look into the most subtle aspects of each, discussing, sharing, reflecting and assimilating. The scientist, writer and poet Goethe, with his holistic and phenomenological approach to “seeing” and “experiencing”, has had a profound influence on my own scientific, teaching and artistic work. During my initial working years, I was based in the southwest of England, where I came into contact through my work with a lot of individuals who were being educated at the “Steiner” school and it was in this manner that I became familiar with the works of Rudolf Steiner a great modern researcher of human nature and cosmic evolution. Another local, influential character was Robert Lenkiewicz (1941 -2002), one of southwest England’s most celebrated artists. Robert lived and worked out of studio space and derelict warehouses on the Barbican in Plymouth. Inspired by the example of Albert Schweitzer, Lenkiewicz threw open the doors of his studios to anyone in need of a roof. Down and outs, addicts, criminals and the mentally ill congregated there and were the subjects of his extensive artistic commentaries and projects investigating hidden communities. During his lifetime I visited his studios often, where his large-scale figurative studies were both mesmerising and breathtaking for their commentary on the human condition. Like Robert, I love reading, researching and collecting books (although more modestly priced and far less valuable material) that relate to my areas of study and interest.
There are so many other artists who inspire me and will continue to do so, their work being so technically crafted and inspired that they will always represent a standard to aim towards. Chardin, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Bouguereau, Van Gogh, Turner, Renoir, Picasso, Etty, Rosetti and so many more. At heart I believe myself to be an aesthetic romantic and aspire to create a dialogue based on my observation, feeling, inspiration and impulse.
I find a lot of inspiration in both poetry and music and find fascinating the interplay between art forms and the way poetry, sculpture, music and painting can relate to each other. I was able to witness this firsthand whilst living and working for ten years in a small village called Lucinges in the Haute Savoie, France. It is here that I had the very great privilege of meeting and talking (on numerous occasions) with French novelist Michel Butor, similarly, domiciled here. Michel Butor was labelled “a great literary explorer” by French President Francois Hollande on the authors death at the age of 89 in 2016. Many cultural events were held at the chateau in Lucinges where Michel engaged in dialogue with other artists for exhibitions, always in the same spirit of freedom and discovery. This too, is something for the future that I would like to bring to my work.
During the course of my scientific studies, I have had first-hand experience of cadaver dissection, working with influential neuro-anatomist Frank Willard in Maine, U.S.A. These opportunities (as they did for Leonardo da Vinci) have informed my appreciation for both the structure and complexity of the human body, nurturing my passion for what is on the one hand robust yet on another intrinsically fragile.
My greatest inspiration comes from my patients, whose ailments over the course of the years, have directed my attention towards the aesthetics of health and beauty, the biodynamic nature of structure and function in both human and natural systems and the importance of nurture.