Aesthetica Art Prize Interview with Caroline Jane Harris

The Aesthetica Art Prize is a celebration of excellence in art from across the world and offers artists the opportunity to showcase their work to wider audiences and further their involvement in the international art world. Previous finalists include Julia Vogl, who was shortlisted for New Sensations – Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4′s Prize – and has exhibited at Zabludowicz Collection; Marcus Jansen, a leading modern expressionist who joined a legacy of artists by featuring in Absolut Vodka’s artistic campaigns, and Bernat Millet, also shortlisted for National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. The 100 longlisted artists are published in the Aesthetica Art Prize Annual and the shortlisted artists will appear in an exhibition at York St Mary’s from 8 March until 28 April. We speak to shortlisted artist Caroline Jane Harris, who explores the intricacies of nature through a labour intensive paper-cutting technique. The process is solo and obsessive, requiring concentration, repetition and discipline. The meditative quality of the work is reflected in her interest in artistic and devotional practices of Eastern Cultures.

A: What is is that drew you to drawing and this type of cutting technique?
CJH: The medium of drawing, more specifically to my work; cutting by hand, is a central part of my process. The repetitive act of deconstructing my digitally printed images creates a dynamic relationship between the mechanical and the organic, artificial symmetry and the hand’s attempt at perfection. The hand explores creativity within habit and inscribes time into the work, leaving behind subtle traces of the artist.

A: Do you work with any other artistic mediums?
CJH: I studied Fine-art printmaking which underpins my approach towards image making. My technique re-invents elements of traditional reduction prints, rearranging the order of cutting, printing and layering on paper, the result straddling the space between two and three dimensional artworks.

A: How do you start a piece?
CJH: I have used the same photographs to render my images from for the last five years, which I took at twilight when I was struck by the gothic echo of black sprawling branches against a grey sky. For my As Above, So Below series and Simulacrum I photographed existing works, re-manipulated, printed and re-cut them. I am interested in repetition’s relationship to artistic and industrial techniques and contrasts of production and reproduction.

A: How does it feel to be part of the Aesthetica Art Prize?
CJH: I was so pleased when I found out I had been shortlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize. I have read the magazine and looked at the blog for some time now, enjoying my bi-monthly ingest of diverse critical discussion around artists and galleries previously unknown to me, locally and overseas. I look forward to visiting the exhibition in York and discovering the other short-listed artists.

A: Which artists have inspired you?
CJH: I am interested in how other contemporary artists interpret and work with paper, I got to see two of my favourites at the First Cut paper exhibition in Manchester; Nariko Ambe who carves piles of white layers to create landscape like contours and Andreas Hocks’ graphite covered paper which resembles painterly brush strokes on an awe-inspiring scale . I am inspired by artists whose work is also obsessive and repetitive, such as the paintings of Shirazeh Houshiary and the site-specific installations of Tara Donovan.

A: What do you have planned for the future?
CJH: I have just exhibited in the Far East and India and would like to show with other artists from these areas, as there is a synergy between my work and art practices in Eastern cultures. I recently completed a two-layered cut-out measuring nearly two and a half metres wide; I endeavour to continue working on a large scale, challenging myself and the viewer to contemplate the possibilities of the medium of paper and dedication.

Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, 8 March – 28 April, York St Mary’s, more info at

All images courtesy of Aesthetica and Caroline Jane Harris