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YBA's in Focus: Marcus Harvey - Myra


Meet YBA artist Marcus Harvey and his work ‘Myra.’

Now, if you have been following the series so far, you’ll know the YBAs LOVED to shock.

So in terms of shock value - this probably up there with the sheep in tanks!

Harvey’s work centres around British Iconography and cultural history. His work includes sculpture, painting and photography and in 1995 created Myra as a mixture of all three medias.

Inspired by the famous police photo of Moors murderer Myra Hindley, Harvey uses ceramic castings of a child’s hand hundreds of times over. Each is painted and placed so at a distance, the work looks to resemble the world known image of Myra Hindley herself. The work is considered a mosaic and measures 2.7 meters by 3.4 meters.

As you can imagine, the work was found to be rather shocking when it was placed on display at the show Sensation at the RA in 1997.

The Times newspaper's art critic, Richard Cork, wrote that:

"Far from cynically exploiting her notoriety, Harvey's grave and monumental canvas succeeds in conveying the enormity of the crime she committed. Seen from afar, through several doorways, Hindley's face looms at us like an apparition. By the time we get close enough to realise that it is spattered with children's handprints, the sense of menace becomes overwhelming!!"

Of the work, Harvey has also commented:

"The whole point of the painting is the photograph. That photograph. The iconic power that has come to it as a result of years of obsessive media reproduction.”

He went onto say:

"I know enough to know that she probably didn't do any of the murders, that she was just in a relationship where she was probably too attached to the man who was doing it to extricate herself. That her life was probably too dull and boring to throw the relationship away ... I don't believe that's 30 years' worth of reputation as one of the most vile and notorious murderers in British criminal history."

What do you think of the work and Harvey’s statement? Let me know in the comments below!!

Jo McLaughlin

March 2021

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