Claire Harkess | A Year in Review

09 Dec 2020

In the early spring of 2020, daily life changed beyond recognition.

Claire Harkess has always been fascinated with the fragility of nature. With the year now drawing to a close, Claire's work takes on a new resonance.

Claire's painting has taken her to fragile lands to study and interpret life on the edge. Antarctica, Outback Australia and St Kilda are all places where, in such extreme environments, survival is difficult and the balance of life is delicate.

Claire Harkess | A Year in Review
Ice Bear: Melt, 2016, watercolour on Chinese paper, H:37cm W:37cm

In July 2020 The Gallery welcomed Claire Harkess for her exhibition Into the Wild. The show collected together an exquisite selection of works inspired by rewilding in Scotland, reimagining our wild ancestors: the elk, lynx, wolf and bear that once roamed our land.

Claire Harkess | A Year in Review
Regeneration - Dormant Forest ii, 2018, watercolour, H:74cm W:54cm

In a Harkess painting a bird or animal is as real as might be experienced in the wild: a silhouette, camouflage patterns against background foliage, on the wing or on the move, sometimes not the whole animal, but always its whole spirit.

These paintings offer a window into our world; fleeting glimpses through a porthole. Painting in watercolour offers a clarity which is transparent, clean, fresh and direct. It’s the perfect medium to echo habitat and wildlife.

Claire Harkess, June 2020
Claire Harkess | A Year in Review
Portraits of the Pack iv, 2018, watercolour, H:56cm W:76cm
Claire Harkess | A Year in Review
Memory of Wolves, 2018, watercolour, H:56cm W:76cm

In August 2020, The Scottish Gallery presented Modern Masters Women, an exhibition celebrating the pioneering, persistent, creative women artists. Claire Harkess was an important inclusion.

Claire Harkess | A Year in Review
Last Song Before Midnight, 2020, watercolour, H:74cm W:100cm

Claire's work for this exhibition by necessity drew its inspiration from closer to home. The result was a fascinating exploration of the local wildlife from around her home in Perth.

Walk, eat, studio, sleep. Our days are on repeat. My paintings bring together moments glimpsed on a walk and fragments of home... the distinction between being outside and in has never felt so strange.

Claire Harkess, June 2020

As the winter now draws in, The Gallery has collected together a selection of artists whose work is profoundly inspired by nature in our exhibition Miniature Menagerie. Claire Harkess contributed a selection of charming, delicate watercolours of birds and small animals.

Claire Harkess | A Year in Review
Bird Box - Greater Spotted, 2020, watercolour, H:10cm W:7cm
Claire Harkess | A Year in Review
Bird Box - Chaffinch, 2020, watercolour, H:10cm W:7cm

Staring out my urban window has become a daily habit and a surprising resource - from visiting birds in the church grounds opposite to chinks of intense sunset above the rooftops.

Claire Harkess | A Year in Review
Mid-Summer Evening, 2020, watercolour, H:15cm W:20cm

Claire's watercolours articulate the beauty and fragility of nature. In a year where we have increasingly learned to appreciate our surroundings, Claire's work feels like a celebration of this relationship.

The Gallery created a video providing an insight into Claire's studio and practice during lockdown in our Great Scots in Isolation series. To find out more, please view below.

View Claire Harkess' works in the Miniature Menagerie, along with our other December exhibitions, by viewing our Virtual Gallery below.

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