• Visual Space

Get to know - Harriet Gillett


Where do you get your inspiration from?

I do a lot of different jobs and each one tends to bring new ideas into my practice. Maybe the inspiration for my work comes from drawings I’ve done of places I’ve been or things I’ve seen. My friends inspire me a lot and I love to draw them. I studied literature at Uni and my love of language and storytelling really informs my work, I am often inspired by song lyrics or poetry. I also look to older paintings for inspiration- their compositions and colours, or visual symbols which recur through art history and in folklore. I’m becoming more and more interested in the subconscious and the theory surrounding it (big fan of Jung) so its interesting to see what comes out when drawing automatically. Then when I need a painting idea, I have visual material I can put together to express it. Even when the work becomes more fantastical it is always grounded in the everyday.


Can you show us one of your sketchbook pages?

My sketchbooks are full of drawings I’ve made from life, and thumbnail sketches of painting ideas so are quite random and often scrappy!


What is your proudest achievement as an artist?

Being invited to be in a show for the first time last September! I’ve always felt serious imposter syndrome so that felt pretty major. Also getting a studio space. And being asked to be interviewed?! Whilst I am proud of these external things as pointers towards my progress, they haven’t had the impact on me I thought they would have. Really it is the internal validation of committing to a practice and knowing that this is what I want to do that keeps me going.

Who is your favourite female artist working at the moment?

Hard question there are so many! But Maggi Hambling’s 2020 show at Marlborough gallery has played in my mind through lockdown. Her paintings of animals which we have exploited and endangered are really haunting.

What is the worst question someone can ask you about your work?

’Can you talk me through it?’ (Mum, 2021) It is hard to speak about something which is beyond the realms of language. I’m never really trying to say anything, it is just my process of looking.

Any words of advice to people who find it hard to work during this pandemic?

When I was in a rut a few months ago I bought a new tiny sketchbook and tried to do one drawing every day. It didn’t need to be relevant but it was making something. Seeing visual progress helped. Also just showing up is so important. Even if all you do is make a cuppa and tidy your workspace. Eventually some work will happen.