Taking Care of the Yolk

MIRROR Plymouth, Plymouth, 2024

The exhibition looks at the boundaries of materials in relation to human and non-human entities. Events unfolding all around us, microscopic to macro, we find ourselves tangled between them. These seemingly small happenings become heightened, fixated on and replayed over and over when they circle a significant moment.

Drivers Side (back), & resting point (k) & (h), 2024 Mirror Gallery, Plymouth, 2024 Fused float glass, horse hair (ash), welded metal frames, balustrade clamps. mould blown glass, valchromat, two part foam, welded metal frames, castors. Photo by Dom Moore
installation view Photo by Dom Moore
Drivers Side (front), detail, 2024 Fused float glass, horse hair (ash), welded metal frames, balustrade clamps. Photo by Dom Moore

MIRROR, Plymouth, 2024

Crocodile Scissors, part of TACO! DreamsTimeFree publication, 2021

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this morning he asked if the skin on his thumb was dead yet?
it was 5.30 am and he’d been cradling his thumb since yesterday afternoon I tried to respond without using the word dead
about a cm of skin was hanging off of his left hand

he asked if I could cut the skin off using his crocodile scissors I said I didn’t think that was a very good idea

he tugged and tore the flap off screaming and threw it on my bed

I’ve been collecting horsehair for about a year now it feels synthetic and sometimes smells like piss

I can always tell if the hair has come from a gelding or a mare by its smell
the gelding’s hair doesn’t smell like urine. this is because their urethra is located under the stomachs

To get the hair i introduce myself by lowering my head and walk slowly towards the horse
I breath into their nostrils offering my hand at the same time
I then run my hand down their neck, along their back and slowly down their quarters. if they’ve not moved by this point there is a mutual trust

I use scissors to cut approximately a foot off of their tail. its like nylon, if the scissors arnt sharp enough it can take a couple of attempts

this clumsy cut it feels how the cutting of an umbilical cord looked

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Maybe they had an urgent call

Touring Show in partnership with Exeter Phoenix, supported by Arts Council England

The exhibition’s title speculates on the motives of two men, encountered once while visiting a classic car show, who abruptly left their café table when the artist began breastfeeding her child. Bowman’s photographs, taken on the same day, act as a departure point for engagement with her interest in the fallibility of the body and its vulnerability to chance, accident and collision. A table-top sculpture becomes an arena for Bowman’s ceramic sculptures; an attempt to restage, replay and understand past events in a diorama of ceramic, pregnant car bodies.

All Round-er (sad sale)

Ceramic, leather, metal and sound works based on an ongoing narrative. The text follows a fictional character called Fled who explores Bowman’s own curiosities for cars, horsepower and the language of advertising. Her writing generates symbolic objects, acting as physical footnotes to the text. In the exhibition these objects were revealed in a theatrical diorama.

Lambing

I always enjoyed the lambing season. Over the years I became used to the sight of Mum swinging lambs by their feet, fresh out of the womb. The swinging motion encourages their first breath by forcing oxygen into their flat lungs. From a young age I’d be in charge of skimming the mucus from their mouth before Mum did the spiral swing. This action of swinging seemed brutal for something new to the world. Mum would say: ‘the most important thing is that you swing them far enough off of the ground and away from any posts to ensure you don’t whack their heads’. After this their bodies came back to the ground far longer than when they emerged crumpled from the womb only moments before.

These were the positive outcomes. Occasionally things wouldn’t go to plan, or the conditions wouldn’t be right and the ewe would lose a lot of blood and not survive. Or she’d be in shock from the trauma of the birth, this shock is common in first timers. I’ve learnt that the pressure of unconditional love exists less in the animal world. If the ewe rejected the new born it would quickly become an orphan and I became its feeder for a few weeks. I would form the bond with the orphans by feeding them out of recycled plastic drinks bottles adapted with a soft red teat.

Some years we would have multiple orphans and I would be overjoyed. Some- times, if the timing was right and an ewe had a still birth we’d act quickly and I would lose one of my lamb children.

Very quickly after the birth we’d skin the deceased babe to make a coat. Mum would do this job – it’s important to keep the skin in one piece. Taking a sharp knife and starting at the unfed stomach, she’d cut along the seam where the animal was finally joined, then gently applying pressure, she’d pull the skin up from the stomach using the knife to cut away any tissue.

We’d come away with a hide. A micro version of the hides used to make leather goods. This skin becomes a tool for adoption. If we had a young enough orphan, may- be one to three days old, the skin would become its jacket, the more sodden with placenta and mucus the better for the chance of success. We’d be hopeful that the bereaved ewe takes this newly dressed lamb as its own.

We would know if the adopting mission was a success almost immediately; a new mother will lick and nurture its offspring straight away, cleaning off its own fluids and using its muzzle to encourage the new born towards its udder. Sometimes there was a bit of trouble with the fostered lamb taking to the udder having had its synthetic counterpart nourish it for the first few days. It takes a lot of perseverance to accept the synthetic teat and equal amounts the fleshy nipple. Both forms of nourishment are equally important to have available.

As the days passed, the minute jacket that once swamped the body became tight around the armpits moulding itself into a ridged form. When the living lamb sat down, the jacket buckled up above the back leaving a gap between its downy fleece and the hard, worn, dead skin. After five to eight days encased, the hide began to crack at the edges and the slits made in the fresh skin seem much smaller than when they comfortably slipped over the tufty backward knees of the newly adopted babe.

The skin usually came off on its own accord, caught on fencing or stretched to its limits, freeing a moving body which happily bounded around. This old skin left a shadow behind of creamy wool, unseen and un- licked by the mother’s rough tongue. By this point the mother’s bond to its fostered child is so strong that the loss of the familiar skin comes as no issue, just fresh wool to nudge toward the udder.

Driver/Seat skin merge, 2020

Audio work as part of the launch of the second volume of Yellowfields at East Side Projects. Yellowfields a curated publication for and by emerging artists and art professionals. Throughout each season thematic project groups work together to produce a collaborative publication and event which explores the artworks of the artists who are involved.

This publication features four artist texts by Jade Montserrat, Freya Dooley, Jo Lathwood and Harriet Bowman, connected through an essay by Ellen Wilkinson.

Feminism, economy, race and sustainability run through this season’s connected practices, underpinned by a shared interest in the labours of production which manifest through physical and emotional experience. 

Maybe they had an urgent call

Touring Show in partnership with Devonshire Collective, supported by Arts Council England

The exhibition unfolds through motifs of collision, slippage and rupture, a layering and juxtaposing a range of materials that include ceramic, metal, glass and rubber. Throughout the exhibition, Bowman pushes her materials to the edge of their capabilities, repurposing and transforming them to explore their cyclical, often hidden relationships to each other.

Writer Daisy Hildyard essay’s Vehicle Portrait written in response to conversations between herself and Harriet over the year leading up to the show. The pamphlet is available to read online in ‘writing’

Installation shot Photo by Dom Moore
Installation shot Photo by Dom Moore
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