REBECCA D. HARRIS IS AN ARTIST, COLLABORATOR, RESEARCHER & EDUCATOR BASED IN CORNWALL, UK
Many artists who appropriate the methods and materials of textiles, talk of nostalgic memories and experiences of female heritage passing on their craft. I, however, have no such backstory. For me, it was a self-discovered affair emerging from my teenage years and an oasis of which I still retreat into some 30 years later.
In 2012, during the formative years of my Masters degree, I cancelled a scheduled gastric bypass; leading to a pivotal moment of which key works developed from the intensified awareness of my then abjectified body. The experience forged my engagement with the female body as my artistic expression. My own body is often, but not exclusively, utilised as an axis for research, adopting an autoethnographic approach to speak of universal issues and not just of the biographical. Furthermore, the viewer's body is a tool for further engagement through the everyday familiarity of the materials and objects. It is a site to physically experience the evocative assemblages and tactile stitching which viscerally empathises the body.
The subtle, layered meanings and interpretations of my terse constructions, offer accessible autonomous artworks through the familiarity and affective potential of textiles. Pulled, manipulated, sculpted and embroidered fabrics are a site of communicating its message. Methods are not only a ‘thinking through making’ approach but also a multidisciplinary arts-based collaborative research model.
Where textiles are used as a concealing veil, I use them to reveal; uncovering the universal lived experiences through biomedical, psychosocial and feminist explorations.
Although I love working on my own, it's even better getting more than one head together on projects and moving ideas forward. A favourite collaboration is the Eden Project commission in which I was teamed up with UCL professor of microbiology Mike Wilson. We worked on visualising how the microbes appear on the skin which I interpreted into a hand embroidery for the Eden Project and you can view an extract of a BBC documentary we took part in here.
For my new research project 'Skin as Repository: my deflated body as axis for research' I am currently establishing partners for both collaborative and advisory roles.
Through my arts based research I have given poster and paper presentations at interdisciplinary conferences within universities across the country. Notably, this year (2018) I gave an artist talk on my 'Obscure Objects of Obesity' project at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University, this research was also published in the anthology: The Politics of Size: Perspectives from the Fat Acceptance Movement (2014).
I am currently developing an interdisciplinary auto-ethnographical arts based research project 'Skin as Repository: my deflated body as axis for research'. Which explores embodiment with skin as a container of history, stigma, materiality and identity.
Throughout the years I have worked in various educational settings from nursery up to degree level and gained a PGCE in 2009. I am available for artist talks, workshops and lectures. To date I have with many places including the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University, Eden Project, University of York, Exeter Phoenix, Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth University.
I hold a DBS (formerly CBS) certificate.
Please contact me for my day rates and availability.
I have worked with a variety of organisations either as a member of, visiting artist to, recipient of a grant or commission.
Click the icons below to download either my CV or Artist Statement in PDF version.