Eye of the Beholder

by Jessica Harrison
  • Medium: Lithograph
  • Image size: 32 x 28cm
  • Edition size: 40

Jessica Harrison

Fear dominates the work: its creation, its pervasive nature and its manipulation. Fear is the main focus of my research, my motivation to make work and a personal obsession that generates the surreal, sinister and sometimes comical juxtapositions in my drawings and sculpture.

The work can be generalised as physical realisations of fascinations derived directly from fears. These fears always begin as personal anxieties and narratives but quickly reveal themselves as part of much bigger pervasive cultural fears about religion, science, death and disaster. This work focuses particularly on our cultural gaze into the body to dispel fears – fears based on a knowledge of our own mortality, a certainty that eventually our bodies will cease to function. The work looks at themes around prolongation of this eventuality and fear, including extreme surveillance, experimentation and violation, the blurring of interior boundaries and the body as cannibal, devourer of itself. I am interested in the brief god-like powers allowed to us in revealing hidden territories and interiors and how the spectacle can only end in a glimpse of our own mortality and inevitable demise/destruction /transgressive curiosity.

I would describe my work as focusing on the division between the familiar and the unfamiliar, the interior and the exterior, and the fearful and the feared ending in a xenotransplantation of parts and a narrative of monstrosity. Portraits of fear, dislocated from the body – the work is the result of a guilty surveillance, an observation of that which is private, a peep show of anxiety.


After graduating from the MFA sculpture course at Edinburgh College of Art in 2007 and the MA in Fine Art at Edinburgh University in 2005, I continue to live and work in Edinburgh.  

Recent exhibitions include the Bloomberg ARTfutures (Bloomberg Space, London), Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop New Members Show (Gallery A1, Leith), Greater Than Ever (The Dick Institute, Kilmarnock), Brave Art ‘06 (Truman Brewery, London), Collection (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh), and the forthcoming graduate show at the Affordable Art Fair (London).
Past awards include the Kinross Scholarship, the Royal Scottish Academy Sculpture Prize, and the John Watson prize.