Gail Harvey graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1977, and has been a resident of the Shetland Isles since 1988. She has exhibited prolifically across the country with group and solo shows held in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bath, London and Shetland.
Her career as an artist has long been distinguished -- while a student, Harvey won scholarships to the Hospital Summer School, Arbroath, and the Scottish Education Department’s Travelling Scholarship. In 1985, Harvey was presented with the John Murray Thomson Award by the Royal Scottish Academy, and in 2011, 2012 and 2014 has been the recipient of Creative Scotland’s Visual Arts Award.
Harvey’s paintings are impressionistic meditations on the landscape the artist has spent her adult life enthralled by. Her palette is drawn from the island’s light, its verdure, its water; each painting capturing the sheer kinesis of the place. The thrashing waves of the ocean, the stillness of its frozen loch, the presence and absence of roaring daylight, the weight of a Nordic seastorm are Harvey’s subjects -- or, rather, sub-subjects, dimensions of a Shetland that has for almost half a century now been her muse. ‘Years’, in Shetland, ‘are split into two distinctive halves: the long dark winters and summer months of almost continuous daylight’, describes Harvey. ‘As a painter, winter allows for a more introspective working day [...] I am painting and trying to find colour and shapes which relate to an inner feeling’.
Using the universal, pictoral language of Shetland, Harvey articulates a kind of universal relation we all share with our homes: namely, that we seek in them a relation, an enunciation perhaps, of our inner selves. It is for this reason that these paintings are not simply representations of their artist’s surroundings -- they speak to a far more elemental landscape than that.