Spotlight

Feature Painter and Printmaker Rose Electra Harris

Championed by Russell Tovey
Visual Arts
The Wick - A Walk in the Clouds II, Rose Electra Harris
Above  A Walk in the Clouds II, Rose Electra Harris
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The Wick - Rose Electra Harris
Above  Rose Electra Harris
Interview
Rose Electra Harris & Russell Tovey
04 August 2021
Interview
Rose Electra Harris & Russell Tovey
04 August 2021
While Russell Tovey is perhaps best known for acting in Pride, The History Boys and Being Human, he is also a passionate art collector. Alongside gallerist Robert Diament, he launched the Talk Art podcast in 2018 with the aim to make the art world more accessible. Since then, it has garnered more than a million downloads and featured interviews with David Shrigley, Noel Fielding, Edward Enninful and Sir Elton John. A follow-up guidebook to help navigate the art world was published in May. As well as recently curating Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction, he is on this year’s Turner Prize judging panel.

A champion of emerging as well as established names, Tovey was tasked with finding new young dynamic artists for a series of bottle label designs for an alcohol brand when he first discovered painter Rose Electra Harris. He says: “With a background in printmaking, her work elegantly suited the pitch of the project but there was a depth to her practice that really resonated and connected to me.”
Growing up, they both spent time trailing their parents around antiques fairs and bric-à-brac stalls. Tovey recognises this appreciation of art objects and antiques in Harris’s work – she often refers to objects and pieces of furniture her father has brought home over the years.

Tovey says: “These works nostalgically vibrate throughout all of her practice and the longer you stay with it, the more rewarding it feels. The ephemera of her childhood, which appear again and again as beautiful and striking motifs, are peppered throughout all of her renderings, positioned alongside what is deemed unsophisticated and domestic. What Rose achieves is to elevate the overlooked and everyday into a position of authority and pride, with a palette so vibrant it resonates with masterful colours favoured by the likes of her heroes David Hockney and Matisse.”

Fascinated by colour, line, shape, texture and pattern, Brighton graduate Harris isn’t concerned with portraying objects exactly as they are, but more how they make her feel ¬– her roomscapes feature objects from memory, some imagined and some collected over time. To her, a room is an oasis and the things within it are what bring it to life.

Tovey agrees: “Jugs and flower pots, chandeliers and free-standing baths all nestle in alongside curvaceous glass bottles and glazed ceramic objects on patterned tablecloths and stools, majestically still and held together in what feels like a celebration for the beauty of the everyday.”

For Tovey, Harris’s newfound confidence with scale is what is exciting him most about her current work. He says: “Following her Instagram and studio practice, we can witness the development of large-scale works which are starting to appear for Rose. Reminiscent of Betty Woodman installations and building towards the size at which Jonas Wood pushes himself to go, or Roy Lichtenstein would create his apartment interior scenes in, Rose Electra Harris is challenging herself, further honing her natural fresh exuberance when it comes to her use of paint and presenting a body of work that pushes beyond the traditional limitations of what the still life can be.”

If you’re as excited as Tovey to see what Harris does next, she hopes you can catch her in a solo show and residencies next year. Until then, she’s taking a step back to develop her practice. She says: “It is so easy to get caught up in saying yes to things, that you realise you have no time for yourself. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time and have never allowed myself the time to do it. My studio is amazing and the biggest I’ve had, so I’m really keen to work on some really large canvases, experiment more with oil painting and mixed media, relearn lithography and work on a series of large-scale woodcuts.”

About the champion

The Wick - Russell Tovey by Jason Dimmock

An actor, curator, Sunday Times bestselling author and one half of the hit Talk Art podcast, there isn’t much that Russell Tovey can’t do. This year alone he’s teamed up with Sotheby’s to handpick a selection of artists for its Contemporary Curated sale, published his book Talk Art: Everything you wanted to know about contemporary art but were afraid to ask, and is currently starring alongside Omari Douglas in Constellations.

“What Rose achieves is to elevate the overlooked and everyday into a position of authority and pride.”

Russell Tovey

Artist Fact File

Place of Birth

London, UK

Education

Foundation at City and Guilds London 2011-2012, University of Brighton Fine Art: Printmaking BA 2012-2015, Turps Correspondence Course 2020-2021

Awards, Accolades

University of Brighton Printmaking Award 2015, Bainbridge Open, The Art Academy Prize 2018

Current exhibitions

I have no current exhibitions but am looking forward to exhibiting in the autumn with Felt Collections, Purslane and a few others

Spiritual guides and mentors

Matisse, Vanessa Bell, Betty Woodman, my family and Joanna Johnston

Advice

Always ask questions, always ask for help, never be afraid to ask for advice


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