Caroline Jane Harris

Caroline Jane Harris

Photography, Print, Drawing

United Kingdom


Harris explores the complexities of nature through a labour intensive paper-cutting technique.  She is inspired by the natural world and is conscious of the strong yet subtle links between environmental occurrences and mankind’s structures. She explores the intricacy and beauty of nature echoed in human and man-made systems, by responding to visual phenomena such as geometric, linear and circular motifs found in all levels of existence. Using photographs of tree formations as her starting point, she digitally layers and manipulates her images to achieve kaleidoscopic symmetry. 

Other elements of the tree are incorporated into the designs such as cross-sections of trunks and wood-grains, which are found and digitally scanned. Circles and gradients suggest the cyclical nature of time and the tools through which we observe; from puddles, irises, sunsets and the line of the horizon to microscopes, telescopes and petri dishes – their essence superimposed on skeletal branch patterns. The images are produced through a contemporary printing method; computer software using pigment inks on archival matte paper. Each segment of printed-paper is cut by hand allowing for subtle distortions creating a tension between technology and the artist's skill, resulting in harmonious complexity. The symmetry in each piece is juxtaposed with an undercurrent of chaos,which acts as a reminder of nature’s imperfections. The Artist views her process as symbiotic with life; transcription, duplication, reproduction and deconstruction. The final composition slowly emerges as the paper is removed exposing depths from the 2D surface. Each hand-cut digital print is placed between sheets of glass, suspended and preserved like a precious fragile specimen, layered both physically and metaphorically.

The unique hybrid process of digital and craftsmanship not only informs her work but is also integral to Harris' practice; she wishes to orchestrate a synthesis of technology and an aesthetic as eloquent as nature’s tapestry. Digital progression is not denounced but it’s processes utilised alongside the skill of the hand so that one gives rise to the other. The computer mouse is held with equal enthusiasm as the scalpel blade; both cutting and digital techniques continue to be honed and developed by the artist honouring Japanese culture in the 21st Century. Harris is influenced by the ancient practice of Japanese Kirigami (the art of cutting paper) in which cuts are made to enhance the symmetry of a design and furthermore  draws inspiration from the techniques used in traditional woodblock printing. In her latest works she has looked to the ‘Bokashi’ process of blushes of background colour, whose transient qualities create the illusion of infinite depth, mixing these with the design principles of ‘Notan’, dark-light resulting in latice-like compositions which reverberate beyond the picture plane. The tactile physicality and processes of relief printmaking are reinvented in Harris’ dialogue of print, relief, surface and layers, positive and negative space.

The work is slow and obsessive, requiring concentration, repetition and discipline hailing to historic techniques. The immediacy of the cut-out allows for no technical mediation between the cut and the end result unlike at the digital design stage, the paper has a neutral surface where every mark is the artist’s own against a backdrop of digital virtue, the process of creating is equally as important as the finished artwork. The cuts sum-up the total experience and convey the artistic journey to the viewer. The meditative quality of the work is reflected in Harris' interest in the creative and devotional practices of Eastern Cultures and the deference paid to nature in contrast to that of the West.