In March 2011 the Alan Cristea Gallery is holding the first solo exhibition of work by emerging artist Marie Harnett. Harnett makes series of highly detailed, minuscule drawings, derived from film stills, which capture fleeting moments of drama, suspense or beauty.
Harnett was initially inspired by comic books and film negatives, as well as being drawn to the Chapman brothers' reworked Goya etchings, which she says 'reminded her of a film strip'. Having experimented with making her own films at art school, she began drawing from selected stills. Her previous work as a film extra drew her to period dramas and particular kinds of stage sets and costumes. Over the past four years since graduating, she has refined her technique and has now made sixteen series of drawings.
Her process requires her to watch film trailers online without sound or colour, frame by frame, until she sees something that inspires her. She rarely watches the film in its entirety, and doesn't follow the plot, preferring instead to reinvent her own story for the characters she draws. Nevertheless her highly skilled draughtsmanship means that her audience often recognises a familiar Hollywood face: she has, in the past, drawn lifelike portraits of Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tilda Swinton, Adrian Brody and Audrey Tautou amongst many others. For this reason she has also completed a number of successful private portrait commissions.
Harnett has been working solidly towards this exhibition for nearly two years and has accumulated over 80 drawings for the show, which will date from 2007 to 2010. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition which includes an interview with the artist.
Marie Harnett is a recent graduate of Edinburgh College of Art. She was selected to exhibit at Brave Art in 2006, the Contemporary Art Society's ARTfutures at Bloomberg Space in 2007 and The Threadneedle Prize in 2008 and 2009. She was included in the Alan Cristea Gallery's Young Contemporaries exhibition in 2009.