Colours of nature

Colours are at the heart of the work of Cig Harvey

Words by

Artdoc

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

The colours in the work Blue Violet have a wide palette of colours, from bright red, deep purple, stark blue, lush green and soft rose to springtime yellow. These colours are not just simple hues; they signify fundamental energies of life and beyond. British-American visual artist Cig Harvey uses not only colours but also the subject matter as metaphors to express her inner feelings. She intuitively makes images that tell hidden stories of reality. Colours are at the heart of her work. "You need to listen to your images in order to better understand them and yourself. Humans have a deep relationship with colour; and that is what I want to investigate in my work."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

The work Blue Violet originated from the tragic experience of her good friend, who was in the hospital for leukaemia treatment and was placed in a room devoid of all sensory influences. Cig Harvey sent her pictures to cheer her up. "I didn't want to send her something that felt dark and depressing, but something that felt beautiful and would bring her joy.

Even though there are many pictures of flowers in it, the series is not at all about flowers. Instead, they are used as a metaphor for being human, about life and death. "The ephemeral nature of flowers lends itself to this idea of what it is to live. Flowers become an access point because they're so sensory in terms of smell and touch. In communication with my friend, they became an access point to talk about what it is to be human. The flowers are a metaphor for what it is to live and a call to celebrate what it is to be alive."

 

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© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

Medicine

Art can sometimes be seen as a form of medicine for healing. Because of the nature of art, it enters our sensory system and influences us, humans, on a subconscious level. Art and nature come together when profoundly felt experiences of nature are transformed into art. Cig Harvey: "Nature is a salve. We know that nature can lower blood pressure. We respond to nature in the body in a way that's positive. I believe that art can have that effect as well.  I feel like art can be a form of medicine. My hope for my work is that it causes people to slow down, pause and experience joy and beauty. That in itself is healing."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet


Subconsciousness  

The series Blue Violet contains not only pictures of nature; there are mysterious, enigmatic pictures of various subjects, radiating a sense of hope, tranquillity, meditation and maybe melancholy. We see a red coat hanging against a pink wall, a girl with closed eyes sitting by a window, bare trees reflected in the glass, an arm above wavering dark water, a woman in a red dress walking in a creek, and a blueish icy underwater shot in what seems to be a hidden cave. Harvey explains her ways of working: "Some of the photographs are constructed, and others are found. I work in two different ways. Sometimes, I respond directly to the world, and other times I premeditate about how to tell the visual story. Then I'll arrange to meet someone at a certain time when the light is good or when it's a snowstorm, and we'll make pictures."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

In the process, she is learning what the photos tell her, like a visual investigation into the subconscious. "I investigate the work, bringing it back to my studio and thinking about what it means through metaphor and symbolism. I then bring these ideas forward to my next pictures. It is a dialogue between the photographs and the mind. I make work from the subconscious but then bring the intellectual, conscious mind into it when analysing what I've made."

For me, the language of art is the language of the unseen.

The metaphors are not deliberately put into the pictures as an ingredient in a recipe. They organically grow into the photographs once they are brought into the realm of art. “For me, the language of art is the language of the unseen. Our job as artists is to make seen what is unseen with comparisons, metaphors and symbolism. Some of it starts off very subconsciously, a gut response when photographing. Afterwards, I start thinking about what the metaphors are.”

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

   

Words

The book Blue Violet also contains pages with texts: poems, lists of words, and explanations about plants and colours. We read that the Ottomans invented floriography, the secret language of flowers, in the fifteenth century. A poem reads: "Three black anemones. A colour so dark there's a weight to it. Blue-violet midnight still stained by the sunset. It's like throwing open the front door and whispering into the night. There are secrets in this colour." Are these words brought in to give context to the photos, or are they a message in themselves? "I consider myself both a writer and a photographer. The writing to me is just as important as the pictures. In many ways, the writing is more contemporary and more direct. Writing and photography function in two different ways. For me, the combination is vital. I can't even imagine doing a book without words, illustrations and drawings. It's the whole package, the different mediums coming together. Even though photos and words do different things, they come from the same place in the body - the gut.”

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet


Weston

In the photography of Edward Weston, the straight photograph is used to say more about the photographer's mood than about reality. His nudes, peppers and cactuses seem to talk back to the photographer. This notion might be applied as well to the work of Cig Harvey. "I think photography is the only art form that is tied so tightly to subject matter. And that subject matter that we are subconsciously, inherently, instinctively drawn to, I think is so telling of inner life. Our pictures look very different, but I'm in the same belief camp as him."


© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

Colours

Colours play a central role in the work of Cig Harvey. They seem to carry with them a message on their own apart from the subject in the photographs. Is there a special meaning in colour for the artist? “In my new series I'm working on now, I dive deeply into colour, in the same way, that I'm looked at and how I used flowers as a metaphor in Blue Violet. I've been obsessed with colour my whole life. I want to investigate historically how humans have lived with colour, how we use colour in society and how colour affects the body. I push back against the idea that colour is just purely decorative. Colour is a serious business and I'm trying to discover more about its meaning, how we respond to it, and how we use it."


Cig Harvey (b1973) is a British born artist and writer, who lives in Maine, USA, working in large-format colour photography and poetry, whose practice seeks to find the magical in everyday life. She uses both images and language to explore sensory experiences and elevate the everyday.
She has published four sold out books: You Look At Me Like An Emergency (Schilt Publishing, 2012); Gardening At Night (Schilt Publishing, 2015); You An Orchestra You A Bomb (Schilt Publishing, 2017); Reveal (with Andrea Modica & Debbie Fleming Caffrey; Yoffy Press, 2020); and Blue Violet (Monacelli / Phaidon, 2021).
She is represented by Robert Mann Gallery (New York), Jackson Fine Art (Atlanta), Robert Klein Gallery (Boston), and Bildhalle (Switzerland & The Netherlands). She has exhibited worldwide including at Paris Photo, Art Miami, and AIPAD (New York) for the past fifteen years.
https://www.cigharvey.com

Colours of nature

Colours are at the heart of the work of Cig Harvey

Words by

Artdoc

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

The colours in the work Blue Violet have a wide palette of colours, from bright red, deep purple, stark blue, lush green and soft rose to springtime yellow. These colours are not just simple hues; they signify fundamental energies of life and beyond. British-American visual artist Cig Harvey uses not only colours but also the subject matter as metaphors to express her inner feelings. She intuitively makes images that tell hidden stories of reality. Colours are at the heart of her work. "You need to listen to your images in order to better understand them and yourself. Humans have a deep relationship with colour; and that is what I want to investigate in my work."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

The work Blue Violet originated from the tragic experience of her good friend, who was in the hospital for leukaemia treatment and was placed in a room devoid of all sensory influences. Cig Harvey sent her pictures to cheer her up. "I didn't want to send her something that felt dark and depressing, but something that felt beautiful and would bring her joy.

Even though there are many pictures of flowers in it, the series is not at all about flowers. Instead, they are used as a metaphor for being human, about life and death. "The ephemeral nature of flowers lends itself to this idea of what it is to live. Flowers become an access point because they're so sensory in terms of smell and touch. In communication with my friend, they became an access point to talk about what it is to be human. The flowers are a metaphor for what it is to live and a call to celebrate what it is to be alive."

 

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

Medicine

Art can sometimes be seen as a form of medicine for healing. Because of the nature of art, it enters our sensory system and influences us, humans, on a subconscious level. Art and nature come together when profoundly felt experiences of nature are transformed into art. Cig Harvey: "Nature is a salve. We know that nature can lower blood pressure. We respond to nature in the body in a way that's positive. I believe that art can have that effect as well.  I feel like art can be a form of medicine. My hope for my work is that it causes people to slow down, pause and experience joy and beauty. That in itself is healing."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet


Subconsciousness  

The series Blue Violet contains not only pictures of nature; there are mysterious, enigmatic pictures of various subjects, radiating a sense of hope, tranquillity, meditation and maybe melancholy. We see a red coat hanging against a pink wall, a girl with closed eyes sitting by a window, bare trees reflected in the glass, an arm above wavering dark water, a woman in a red dress walking in a creek, and a blueish icy underwater shot in what seems to be a hidden cave. Harvey explains her ways of working: "Some of the photographs are constructed, and others are found. I work in two different ways. Sometimes, I respond directly to the world, and other times I premeditate about how to tell the visual story. Then I'll arrange to meet someone at a certain time when the light is good or when it's a snowstorm, and we'll make pictures."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

In the process, she is learning what the photos tell her, like a visual investigation into the subconscious. "I investigate the work, bringing it back to my studio and thinking about what it means through metaphor and symbolism. I then bring these ideas forward to my next pictures. It is a dialogue between the photographs and the mind. I make work from the subconscious but then bring the intellectual, conscious mind into it when analysing what I've made."

For me, the language of art is the language of the unseen.

The metaphors are not deliberately put into the pictures as an ingredient in a recipe. They organically grow into the photographs once they are brought into the realm of art. “For me, the language of art is the language of the unseen. Our job as artists is to make seen what is unseen with comparisons, metaphors and symbolism. Some of it starts off very subconsciously, a gut response when photographing. Afterwards, I start thinking about what the metaphors are.”

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

   

Words

The book Blue Violet also contains pages with texts: poems, lists of words, and explanations about plants and colours. We read that the Ottomans invented floriography, the secret language of flowers, in the fifteenth century. A poem reads: "Three black anemones. A colour so dark there's a weight to it. Blue-violet midnight still stained by the sunset. It's like throwing open the front door and whispering into the night. There are secrets in this colour." Are these words brought in to give context to the photos, or are they a message in themselves? "I consider myself both a writer and a photographer. The writing to me is just as important as the pictures. In many ways, the writing is more contemporary and more direct. Writing and photography function in two different ways. For me, the combination is vital. I can't even imagine doing a book without words, illustrations and drawings. It's the whole package, the different mediums coming together. Even though photos and words do different things, they come from the same place in the body - the gut.”

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet


Weston

In the photography of Edward Weston, the straight photograph is used to say more about the photographer's mood than about reality. His nudes, peppers and cactuses seem to talk back to the photographer. This notion might be applied as well to the work of Cig Harvey. "I think photography is the only art form that is tied so tightly to subject matter. And that subject matter that we are subconsciously, inherently, instinctively drawn to, I think is so telling of inner life. Our pictures look very different, but I'm in the same belief camp as him."


© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

Colours

Colours play a central role in the work of Cig Harvey. They seem to carry with them a message on their own apart from the subject in the photographs. Is there a special meaning in colour for the artist? “In my new series I'm working on now, I dive deeply into colour, in the same way, that I'm looked at and how I used flowers as a metaphor in Blue Violet. I've been obsessed with colour my whole life. I want to investigate historically how humans have lived with colour, how we use colour in society and how colour affects the body. I push back against the idea that colour is just purely decorative. Colour is a serious business and I'm trying to discover more about its meaning, how we respond to it, and how we use it."


Cig Harvey (b1973) is a British born artist and writer, who lives in Maine, USA, working in large-format colour photography and poetry, whose practice seeks to find the magical in everyday life. She uses both images and language to explore sensory experiences and elevate the everyday.
She has published four sold out books: You Look At Me Like An Emergency (Schilt Publishing, 2012); Gardening At Night (Schilt Publishing, 2015); You An Orchestra You A Bomb (Schilt Publishing, 2017); Reveal (with Andrea Modica & Debbie Fleming Caffrey; Yoffy Press, 2020); and Blue Violet (Monacelli / Phaidon, 2021).
She is represented by Robert Mann Gallery (New York), Jackson Fine Art (Atlanta), Robert Klein Gallery (Boston), and Bildhalle (Switzerland & The Netherlands). She has exhibited worldwide including at Paris Photo, Art Miami, and AIPAD (New York) for the past fifteen years.
https://www.cigharvey.com

Back to Magazine

Colours of nature

Colours are at the heart of the work of Cig Harvey

Words by

Artdoc

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

The colours in the work Blue Violet have a wide palette of colours, from bright red, deep purple, stark blue, lush green and soft rose to springtime yellow. These colours are not just simple hues; they signify fundamental energies of life and beyond. British-American visual artist Cig Harvey uses not only colours but also the subject matter as metaphors to express her inner feelings. She intuitively makes images that tell hidden stories of reality. Colours are at the heart of her work. "You need to listen to your images in order to better understand them and yourself. Humans have a deep relationship with colour; and that is what I want to investigate in my work."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

The work Blue Violet originated from the tragic experience of her good friend, who was in the hospital for leukaemia treatment and was placed in a room devoid of all sensory influences. Cig Harvey sent her pictures to cheer her up. "I didn't want to send her something that felt dark and depressing, but something that felt beautiful and would bring her joy.

Even though there are many pictures of flowers in it, the series is not at all about flowers. Instead, they are used as a metaphor for being human, about life and death. "The ephemeral nature of flowers lends itself to this idea of what it is to live. Flowers become an access point because they're so sensory in terms of smell and touch. In communication with my friend, they became an access point to talk about what it is to be human. The flowers are a metaphor for what it is to live and a call to celebrate what it is to be alive."

 

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

Medicine

Art can sometimes be seen as a form of medicine for healing. Because of the nature of art, it enters our sensory system and influences us, humans, on a subconscious level. Art and nature come together when profoundly felt experiences of nature are transformed into art. Cig Harvey: "Nature is a salve. We know that nature can lower blood pressure. We respond to nature in the body in a way that's positive. I believe that art can have that effect as well.  I feel like art can be a form of medicine. My hope for my work is that it causes people to slow down, pause and experience joy and beauty. That in itself is healing."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet


Subconsciousness  

The series Blue Violet contains not only pictures of nature; there are mysterious, enigmatic pictures of various subjects, radiating a sense of hope, tranquillity, meditation and maybe melancholy. We see a red coat hanging against a pink wall, a girl with closed eyes sitting by a window, bare trees reflected in the glass, an arm above wavering dark water, a woman in a red dress walking in a creek, and a blueish icy underwater shot in what seems to be a hidden cave. Harvey explains her ways of working: "Some of the photographs are constructed, and others are found. I work in two different ways. Sometimes, I respond directly to the world, and other times I premeditate about how to tell the visual story. Then I'll arrange to meet someone at a certain time when the light is good or when it's a snowstorm, and we'll make pictures."

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

In the process, she is learning what the photos tell her, like a visual investigation into the subconscious. "I investigate the work, bringing it back to my studio and thinking about what it means through metaphor and symbolism. I then bring these ideas forward to my next pictures. It is a dialogue between the photographs and the mind. I make work from the subconscious but then bring the intellectual, conscious mind into it when analysing what I've made."

For me, the language of art is the language of the unseen.

The metaphors are not deliberately put into the pictures as an ingredient in a recipe. They organically grow into the photographs once they are brought into the realm of art. “For me, the language of art is the language of the unseen. Our job as artists is to make seen what is unseen with comparisons, metaphors and symbolism. Some of it starts off very subconsciously, a gut response when photographing. Afterwards, I start thinking about what the metaphors are.”

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

   

Words

The book Blue Violet also contains pages with texts: poems, lists of words, and explanations about plants and colours. We read that the Ottomans invented floriography, the secret language of flowers, in the fifteenth century. A poem reads: "Three black anemones. A colour so dark there's a weight to it. Blue-violet midnight still stained by the sunset. It's like throwing open the front door and whispering into the night. There are secrets in this colour." Are these words brought in to give context to the photos, or are they a message in themselves? "I consider myself both a writer and a photographer. The writing to me is just as important as the pictures. In many ways, the writing is more contemporary and more direct. Writing and photography function in two different ways. For me, the combination is vital. I can't even imagine doing a book without words, illustrations and drawings. It's the whole package, the different mediums coming together. Even though photos and words do different things, they come from the same place in the body - the gut.”

© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet


Weston

In the photography of Edward Weston, the straight photograph is used to say more about the photographer's mood than about reality. His nudes, peppers and cactuses seem to talk back to the photographer. This notion might be applied as well to the work of Cig Harvey. "I think photography is the only art form that is tied so tightly to subject matter. And that subject matter that we are subconsciously, inherently, instinctively drawn to, I think is so telling of inner life. Our pictures look very different, but I'm in the same belief camp as him."


© Cig Harvey | Blue Violet

Colours

Colours play a central role in the work of Cig Harvey. They seem to carry with them a message on their own apart from the subject in the photographs. Is there a special meaning in colour for the artist? “In my new series I'm working on now, I dive deeply into colour, in the same way, that I'm looked at and how I used flowers as a metaphor in Blue Violet. I've been obsessed with colour my whole life. I want to investigate historically how humans have lived with colour, how we use colour in society and how colour affects the body. I push back against the idea that colour is just purely decorative. Colour is a serious business and I'm trying to discover more about its meaning, how we respond to it, and how we use it."


Cig Harvey (b1973) is a British born artist and writer, who lives in Maine, USA, working in large-format colour photography and poetry, whose practice seeks to find the magical in everyday life. She uses both images and language to explore sensory experiences and elevate the everyday.
She has published four sold out books: You Look At Me Like An Emergency (Schilt Publishing, 2012); Gardening At Night (Schilt Publishing, 2015); You An Orchestra You A Bomb (Schilt Publishing, 2017); Reveal (with Andrea Modica & Debbie Fleming Caffrey; Yoffy Press, 2020); and Blue Violet (Monacelli / Phaidon, 2021).
She is represented by Robert Mann Gallery (New York), Jackson Fine Art (Atlanta), Robert Klein Gallery (Boston), and Bildhalle (Switzerland & The Netherlands). She has exhibited worldwide including at Paris Photo, Art Miami, and AIPAD (New York) for the past fifteen years.
https://www.cigharvey.com

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