Take Flight With Claire Harvey’s Postcards Series
The overhead seatbelt sign flashes off with a ding and the seat shuffle symphony begins. Passengers mainline to the bathroom, others prepare for their entertainment binge session, while stewardesses get their trolley and peanuts in order. Meanwhile, at 22b, amidst all the commotion, Claire Harvey is calmly planning her next artwork.
The English-born artist is drawn to working on unconventional surfaces – Post-it notes, transparencies, glass slides, sticky tape and Polaroids have all featured her delicate, figurative drawings that mix people in situations that range from the mundane to the extraordinary. Her ‘Postcards’ series features lone, mysterious figures who have been tweezered out of their surrounds, expertly etched, and put down on plane wings. Harvey says they are “Reflections of humanity. Some are friends, most are strangers. They fascinate me.” Us too Harvey, us too.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was raised in the village of Wing [Buckinghamshire, England] and moved to Amsterdam in 2003.
What do you love about where you live?
The landscape – streaming with timeless canals, natural light – and the constant dance of people and their bicycles is constant inspiration. There is a rich, accessible art community here connected to a deep history I’m humbled to be a part of.
Do you have a day job or are you a full-time artist?
I am a full-time artist. It is the only skill I have.
Did you study art?
I’m easily distracted by my own thoughts. In spite of this, I managed to graduate from university.
What was the first artwork or artist that fascinated you?
Herge’s Adventures of Tintin. I had every book. They took my imagination on tour around the world, then I realised I could forge my own destiny with art.
When you were a kid, what did you love to draw?
There was a period I was either having nightmares or visits from what appeared as monsters, as though my room was haunted. Trying to explain to my mum the experiences I was having, I drew the creatures I saw.
How did you get the idea for your ‘Postcards’ series?
The desire to send a thank you card to friends I had made in Capetown spawned the narrative, I suppose. The gesture to a friend was a catalyst for the series.
Do you travel a lot?
Yes! Experiencing new places and cultures touches something deep. It is inspiring and educational. Any time you want an honest look in the mirror: pack your rucksack and go on holiday.
And do you always book a window seat?
Not necessarily. Though I always find an opportunity to take a shot. Or it finds me. More the latter, I’m largely responsive to the muse and not a dictator of it.
Where would you love to travel to?
Whenever someone speaks of Bali, there is a punch-drunk love expression as though they are forever transformed.
Do you draw the images while on the plane or prior and tape them up?
Yes. Both. Tray tables up.
How do your seat mates react to your works?
Most are sleeping, snoring or quite engrossed in Matt Damon leaping from buildings to notice me, also in my own world.
Is it an ongoing series?
Yes. I find as an artist, there is a symbiotic growth process that happens. My images don’t necessarily reflect what my deep personal process is, or maybe they do, yet I want to show what I see in their natural form… to make beauty from beauty.
What themes or ideas do you find yourself drawn to with your work?
Lately I’m exploring articles of faith, trust and intuition… all the while feeling as though my rear foot is in a river bending time.