Ellen Harvey

Ellen Harvey

Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia

Ellen Harvey, Arcade/Arcadia, 2012. Exhibition view. Courtesy of Locks Gallery, Philadelphia.
August 13, 2014

Ellen Harvey

August 15–November 16, 2014

Opening: Friday, August 15, 6pm
Artist talk: Thursday, September 25, 6pm

Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia
One Clay Square
Charleston, WV 25301

T +1 304 561 3570


In ARCADE/ARCADIA Harvey joins elements of Joseph Mallord William Turner’s life as a painter and engraver with the history of Margate, the once fashionable seaside resort where he painted and lived for many years, to create a disorienting and seductive space that conflates Turner’s gallery with the largely abandoned amusement arcades of Margate’s recent past.

Inside a wood frame that recreates in 3/4 scale the proportions of the gallery that Turner maintained in London until his death, Harvey has mounted 34 Plexiglas mirrors laboriously hand-engraved in the style of Turner’s engravings with a 360-degree view of contemporary Margate seen from the beach. The arrangement of mirrors is based on that of Turner’s paintings in his gallery upon his death. The mirrors are mounted on thin light boxes so that the engraved drawings glow, superimposing themselves over viewers’ reflections. Large illuminated letters spelling “ARCADIA” on the exterior of the structure reference both the amusement arcades of contemporary Margate as well as Turner’s own intense love for a place that he declared had “the loveliest skies in Europe.”

 Walking into Harvey’s hall of fun-house mirrors, the viewer is immersed in an eerie panoramic view of a run-down seaside resort; there are no people visible in the engravings and the monochrome glowing engravings create uncertainty as to whether or not the scenes are depicted by day or night. The subdued lighting emitted by the engravings transforms the space from a simple room to an experience where reality and illusion merge, creating an unsettling embodiment of how easily the desire for the sublime can collapse into an acceptance of commercial spectacle.

ARCADE/ARCADIA was originally commissioned for the opening of the Turner Contemporary in Margate, England in 2011.

Born in the United Kingdom, Ellen Harvey lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She took part in both the Whitney Independent Study Program and the MoMA PS1 National Studio Program and was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Harvey has completed projects for both the New York and Chicago transit authorities, as well as commissions for the nation’s Art in Architecture program, New York’s Percent for Art, the Philadelphia International Airport and the Flemish National Architect. Her work has been exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; the Arnolfini, Bristol, UK; the Turner Cotemporary, Margate, UK; the Bass Museum, Miami Beach; Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw; the Queens Museum, New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Whitney Museum, New York and MoMA PS1, New York, among others. A monograph on Harvey’s work, The Museum of Failure, will be published by Gregory R. Miller & Co. in the spring of next year.  A new installation, The Unloved, will be opening at the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, Belgium in October.

Exhibition Sponsors: The Elliot Family Foundation

About the Clay Center
Located in downtown Charleston, West Virginia, the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia is one of only three venues in the country to combine visual arts, performing arts and science in one facility. Museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm and Sunday, noon to 5pm. For more information on this and all Clay Center exhibits and events, call +1 304 561 3570 or visit www.theclaycenter.org.

Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia
August 13, 2014

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