Hugo Harris’s Degree Show work consists of a series of fragmented sculptures, each exploring the weight of the human body. “They look at how subtle alterations of pose and position manipulates and displaces parts of our muscle and flesh,” says the Fine Art student.
Hugo will have three sculptures on display, each one is a life-cast of a person in a different physical position. “It’s the physical modification of how our body reacts when in contact with a solid object that I’m interested in; that change of form, and feeling of balance,” says Hugo, “Because the pieces are in these fragmentary forms, hopefully they feel like an incomplete memory of an insignificant, banal action.”
His interest in this topic comes from different places, partly inspired by other artworks, and partly through studying an outside course in anatomy. “I did an anatomy course at the Medical School at the University, and that was amazing. I always come back to that. It involved handling cadaveric material and really understanding the internal workings of the body,” says Hugo, “Then a big inspiration is classical sculpture which often appears to us now in a damaged or incomplete state, like a lot of the plaster-casts that surround the studios at Edinburgh College of Art. I’m also influenced by artists that work with the incomplete body, like Rodin, Hans Bellmer, and Berlinde de Bruyckere.”
The programme that Hugo studies, Fine Art, combines art history and theory with artistic practice. This has encouraged him to think about where his work sits in relation to other artists and artistic movements. “It’s been great to be able to contextualise my own work within the timeline of art history. It’s always informing my practice,” he says, “When you come here, what comes from the tutors the most is the importance of developing a confidence in your own work, to take your work seriously, and to make your own decisions. You also learn how to speak about your work and about art in general.”
Access to workshops and the expertise of the people that work in them has been hugely beneficial to Hugo in preparing for the Degree Show and life after graduation. “The skills that they’ve taught me are going to be invaluable in moving forward in my career. I’ve been able to immerse myself in so many different processes and techniques that would be hard to learn by yourself, like wood joining, bronze casting, and metalwork.”
It’s the conversation between students that Hugo is going to miss most after leaving Edinburgh College of Art. “There’s this constant dialogue between different disciplines, particularly being in such proximity to one another. You’re always able to talk about each other’s work with one another. Feedback from fellow students has been important.”
“This summer I’m going to be working as an assistant to some sculptors, and then I’m waiting to hear back about some residencies and awards that I’ve applied to, for after graduation,” says Hugo, “The long-term goal is to pursue a career as a sculptor – that’s the dream.”