Project 1 GOW at GNM
15th November - 20th December

Lucy Harvey

Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.

Walter Benjamin: "Unpacking my Library: A Talk about Book Collecting," in Illuminations, Engl. trans. (London: Fontana, 1982).

As objects enter the museum environment their function transforms from the physical to the emotional, and they now function solely as instigators of wonder. The viewer’s relationship with an ancient exhibit is purely in the mind and in removing the physical interaction with this object we are invited to explore the many other narrative facets of the form.

Superstitious objects in particular embody this emotional relationship with the three dimensional. Here, objects are seen as ambiguous authority figures, of palpable evidence of superstitious fantasies or scientific fact: an amulet might mean protection to one, but to another it demonstrates psychological desires and the power of suggestion. I find myself equally fascinated and perplexed by superstitious belief but I am also a daydreamer and a collector of found objects. I recognise my own need for narrative escape and feel compelled to explore the escape of others.

Our silent discourse with the inanimate centres around a contemplation of the ambiguities lay hidden in the object before us; they reflect our needs for reassurance and protection, escapism and discovery. In studying hand crafted objects in particular we experience a chaotic flurry of nostalgic and fantastic stories. I am interested in blurring this line between the real and imagined by creating my own artefacts to express tales of the unknown.

Craft processes allow us to manipulate pre-existing forms, through presentation or mimicry, into suggestive relics for confused narratives. I meddle with the symbolic context of historic tools and objects, such as amulets or medical equipment, in order to subvert the authority we place in objects of age. Combining enigmatic found objects with jewellery techniques and forms venerates the mundane and questions accepted ideas of value. Hand crafted objects are richly imbued with the tale of their conception and the absent presence of the maker. In manufacturing an object it almost seems fraudulent to hide the human fallibility behind its creation; a habit too common in contemporary craft practices. Craft objects carry a tale of real time human interaction, regardless of their purpose, which is always historic and always ambiguous. In response to this, I manufacture scratches, dents and poor techniques in my objects to create an alter ego, an outsider.

My objects carry an empty promise of physical function, presenting viewers with both tools of protection and harm, whilst in reality they have been created to exist solely before the imagination. Our anxieties of misuse and misinterpretation are exorcised through this juxtaposition of attraction and repulsion, reassurance and horror.



Lucy Harvey is a jewellery artist from Manchester, UK. She studied Three Dimensional Design at Manchester Metropolitan University before undertaking a Masters in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products at the Birmingham School of Jewellery.

Her work is held in the permanent Contemporary Crafts collection at Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art (mima) and she has undertaken residencies and commissions for Aberystwyth Arts Centre, National Glass Centre Sunderland, and The Art Fund. She has held an associate lecturer post at Manchester Metropolitan University and was recently selected for the Craft Council’s Hothouse scheme, summer 2010.


Cabinet in museum

Close up of objects

close up