By Iona Kirk

Middleground is pleased to present the second discussion of the series that aims to delve into the practices of emerging artists. In response to the lack of connection since lockdown, this series aims to provide an honest and insightful discourse to connect the creative voices of today. This week, Iona Kirk talks to artist Harriet Moore about their practice. 

Harriet Moore graduated from BA Photography, Camberwell University of the Arts London in 2020 and is currently based in London. Moore specialises in documentary, portrait and still life photography, exploring narratives of the everyday with a focus on the unusual. Moore’s work varies from creating abstract darkroom experiments to exploring documentary subjects, such as psychics and spirituality.

Interview

This is a transcript of a conversation with some post-editing after the event.

I: Hello! Would you like to quickly introduce yourself, Harriet?

H: I am a photographer and artist specialising in documentary, portrait and still life photography. I am also currently experimenting with sculpture and lino prints at the moment.

I: What are your motivations in creating?

Still Life with Balancing Crystals from ‘Above Consciousness’ (2020)

H: Since I was around 14 years old I have been interested in photography. I started buying ‘The British Journal of Photography’ and that has always been a big source of inspiration for me. When things have been tough and hard I think back to my 14 year old self and just think how proud she would have been of where I am right now. I have always wanted my work to be in that magazine, it helps me to think back to that in tough times and makes me push through. Also the fear of a 9 to 5 office job keeps me going..

I: Yep, yeah. {laughs}

H: I also just want people to see my work and to enjoy looking at it and be inspired by it.

I: How has it been for you since graduating? What have you been doing to stay creative?

H: Well, when I graduated I thought it was going to be really difficult to keep motivated because when you are at uni you have deadlines and crits that you have to produce work for. There is more of a pressure to be making work all the time, so I really thought I wasn’t going to be motivated. But I have found it a bit easier to stay motivated than I thought I would. I think that probably is because of the pandemic because it has given me time to sit and think about what I want to do with my projects and what is important to me. Also because of Covid, this could be a lot of the chat couldn’t it.

I: Yeah, it definitely happened.

H: There aren’t many jobs around at the moment and even though I have been applying. I haven’t been getting any, so it has given me time to focus on my work.

I: In between the weekly application.

H: Exactly. I have used this opportunity to explore other sides of my artworks. For example, I have started lino drawing and creating prints to keep occupied, also experimenting with sculpture too and using clay! I feel like I am being patient with myself and not putting too much pressure on my creativity. Allowing it to come and go. 

I: I think it’s important to not put the pressure on ourselves to constantly be doing stuff.

H: I allow that to happen and try not to put that pressure on myself when I get stuck. I often find myself looking back at old projects for inspiration and that spurred me on.

{Chatting}

Indian Takeaway from ’Takeaway’

I: So the big question, what’s your favourite meal deal?

H: I was thinking about this and I genuinely cannot think of the last time I had a meal deal because of corona. 

I: I think my last one was when we were still at uni..

H: Yeh, I think it must have been the sainsburys next to uni.

I: Which also always had the worst selection. Like they only ever seemed to have a cheese and pickle sandwich left. 

H: Exactly! Just a lone ploughmans. So the answer I am going to have to give is a Pret baguette, even though it doesn’t count as a meal deal. The avocado and sun dried tomato baguette from pret. I have everytime, only because they don’t have many vegetarian options.

I: And the ones they do have are like..

H: Cheese.

{laughs}

I: What are your three essential things/objects/materials to start off your process?

H: I was thinking about this and they change from project to project. But the one thing that stays the same from project to project are photo books. Especially Alec Soth, he has always inspired me since college and I have a couple of his photo books which I always find myself going back to when I need to be inspired. That has stayed pretty much the same since college. One thing I have recently started doing is collect old photographs from ebay, a lot of them are quite boring but I find them really interesting and if i’m not feeling inspired or down I will just look at them and think well that got through it so I can too.

{nonsense chatter}

H: Another quite generic choice, but it will have to be a sketchbook. Even though I write down all my ideas in my notes app on my phone, I find it really helpful to have it physical still. It allows me to mindmap ideas, which then bounce into more – whereas, digitally it can get lost and messy. I’m struggling to think of a third one.. Instagram, even though it’s not an object, it does play quite a large role in where I find inspiration. My psychic project wouldn’t have come to anything if it wasn’t for instagram, it helped make me and my projects feel more comfortable.

Still Life with Calla Lilies

I: What do you think is an essential read/watch that you think all artists should look at?

H: So, I am going to go general here. But as everything is online at the moment, I have found attending online artist talks really inspiring. They have become more accessible than ever – Attend artists online talks! You can join a zoom artist talk that’s in america and you just wouldn’t normally be able to do that. I think they are really important to finding out new information and getting inspired – you leave wanting to create and finish your projects more than ever. 

I: That is honestly such a good idea, I keep meaning to join in some! Potentially a cheesy one question – But what is your quote of the week?

H: This has been on my mind a lot lately, I have been thinking about how everyone wants to achieve things quickly. ‘Slow down because it’s not a race, there is time to accomplish everything you want to!’ Also I’m going to add, ‘other people’s success does not tarnish your journey’ so dont look at other people’s success as something to be bitter about. Congratulate them and be proud of them, just know that there is still space for you in the industry as well.

I: I feel like that’s something that every young artist needs to hear. Your time will come! 

H: It’s really difficult in the arts too because it’s so competitive and you are told that from day one. Especially at uni, people get scared that their opportunity will be taken from them. 

{joking}

Fish and Chip Shop from ’Takeaway’

H: The industry is so competitive. You often see other people’s success as, I can’t find the word..

I: A bit like, oh..

H: Yeah, that could have been me. Comparing yourself and feeling like a failure. Like why didn’t I apply for that, and so on.

I: However, if your friend becomes a famous artist.. You have a great contact in the industry.

{laughing}

H: Exactly, and your time will come!

I: One day you will be in the right place at the right time and it will fall into place.

Would you like to take us through your psychic project?

H: It first came about when I developed an interest in the amount of people who had begun turning to tarot card readings. I also think there is something really interesting about people wanting to know their future; we are all so obsessed with living in the future that we don’t live for the present. That goes back to succeeding and also wanting to know if you will succeed even before it comes, so I was really interested in that. I also really wanted to meet someone who was a psychic and to understand their story and opinions about the ‘scams’ within the industry. I wanted to also challenge my views on the whole idea so meeting these people was the best place to start. 

I chose to photograph them in their environment to follow the experience of their profession. This was an important aspect for the project – it made the images quite intimate. It can always be a bit awkward when you are going into someone’s home who hasn’t been photographed before. 

I: Another great piece of advice, I am going to bear that one in mind. Thank you for joining me for this chat! 

Website: https://www.harrietmoore.co.uk/ 

Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MondayMorningStudio?ref=usf_2020 

Online artist talks can be found across a range of platforms, linked below are some great spaces to find talks, events and workshops – 

https://the-dots.com/ – Follow your favourite galleries and platforms for updates and events.

https://www.instagram.com/sadgrads2020/ – Instagram live chats.

https://open.spotify.com/show/28N8ytzYDwbQVqE62TuDdv?si=3paJF8QUSX61adZsX0Jq4A – Weekly podcast with a range of emerging creatives.

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/now-upcoming

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on

https://www.serpentinegalleries.org/whats-on/

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