Issue 11
Monday, 17 July 2017
Charles Darwin University
Lee Harrop: rocking and rolling. Photo: Julianne Osborne
Lee Harrop: rocking and rolling. Photo: Julianne Osborne

Artist interrogates the nature of violence

By Andrew Hall

As a police officer in New Zealand, violence was never too far from Lee Harrop’s daily life, and as a Visual Arts PhD candidate it’s still a regular feature.

During the five years before retiring from the force – after 15 years – Lee was a forensic photographer, an experience that has contributed significantly to her current art practice that interrogates how violence is perpetuated through the structures of language.

“That was the subject of my Master of Fine Arts thesis and it carries through all my work,” Lee said.

Earlier this month Lee presented a paper titled “Sacred Scared Scarred / Art v Law A Case Study” at the Art in Law in Art Conference at the University of Western Australia and was invited to show a number of her works at the Bunbury Biennale, also in WA.

One of her works – inscribed into two dolerite drill-core samples – was subsequently bought by the City of Bunbury.

“Language is used as both a means of interpreting art and as the medium for the artwork itself . . . I research viewer reception in local communities in a way that tries to understand how they read or perceive art,” she said.

“This can lead to the discovery of understandings about what is happening in these communities and what kinds of perceptive triggers exist.”

Another element Lee looks for is the context or the site in which to present her work, which “activates it”.

“The power of the choice of words, the fonts used, the artistic idea – coupled with a site – are all integral to evoking strong emotions in those who view my artworks,” she said.