Reviews, Essays & Articles
Joyce Campbell & Michael
Unexpected intimacy can make us feel uncomfortable and we look for
any signs of inhabitance as we enter spaces. The most fundamental
rationalisation of this awareness of personal territory is 'safety'.
We protect our 'personal space' through elaborate displays of ritualistic
avoidance. We experience personal dislike as physical repulsion
and gradualy grow to indicate trust through physical intimacy -
"share germs" with those we love. A fear of "infection" at once
dignifies our territorial instincts, and has provided a seamless
rationalisation for the least egalitarian of tribalistsic and nationalistic
While working in different formats, the work of both artists is
characterisied by an attention to the interelatedness of the social
and biological determinants of human interaction - with place, and
with each other. Hosting is the first public manifestation
of these mutual interests.
More fundamentally, the works are linked by a presumed relationship
between artist and viewer - one of personal investment.These are
confessional works, an admission of "dirtyness", psychological,
physical. In compromising the artist's privacy the viewer is invited
to pay the work the kind of intimate attention appropriate to the
private sphere, the uncalled for disclosure: I thought something
dirty, I had something dirty on me.
Hosting is an attempt to provide art viewers with a heightened
awareness of their territorial relationships with the environments
that they inhabit. In entering a space marked by another, the visitor
is presented with his or her own territorial responses, this momentary
self-conciousness creating an opening for shift; a site for potential
reassessment of notions of identity, fixity, exclusion and belonging.
Michael Harrison often paints pictures in order to experience sexually,
and to make sense of sexual experience. He usually paints women,
his images sourced from material freely available to the everyday
voyeur, for example Farmers catalogues, Cleo magazines, neo-classical
statuary. Michael's work is extremely controlled. He processes imagery
over many years, with images reappearing repeatedly over long periods
of time. These are treated simply, but form complex, oblique narratives,
virtual sexual encounters of fantastic purity, symmetry and style.
These disconcerting intimate admissions into the life of the artist
form, en masse, a diary.
Much of what Michael paints he has never exhibited, prefering to
store works he regards as potentialy problematic to the viewer.
In Hosting Michael reveals many of these paintings for the
first time, showing what has over the last decade formed a substantial
personal collection. The audience is presented with a single wall
of images, standard A3 and A4 format acrylic studies on paper, and
in no chronological or thematic order. This exhibition is an opportunity
to present Michael's work within the context of it's entirety, as
a diary, a fragmented narrative that illuminates that process whereby
the individual over time constructs a detailed internal sexual self.
The self in these works doesn't age, but rather loops back, re-visits
favourite haunts, the lovers remaining eternally young and idealised,
considered as an expression of the tyranny of sexual instinct.
Break in transmission?
The Press, 1997 Aug. 13, p. 14
Hosting, Michael Harrison and Joyce Campbell paintings and photographs.