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Stark but haunting: Portrait painter puts flesh on the Bones of a powerful exhibition

© SYSTEMPainter Harriet Selka’s Bones is on until March.
Painter Harriet Selka’s Bones is on until March.

The last year has been a whirlwind for young Edinburgh-based painter Harriet Selka.

Not only did she recently appear on series eight of Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist Of The Year, producing a knockout portrait of writer and broadcaster, Alastair Campbell, she ended 2021 by staging a solo exhibition at Wasps South Block in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

Paintings in the exhibition, Bones, which runs until February 8, are all inspired by her experience of being diagnosed at the age of three with a tumour in a kidney.

She made medical history by becoming the first child to have her ovarian tissue frozen. Doctors removed a small piece of tissue from one of her ovaries before giving her radiation treatment for the kidney tumour.

Bones is based on a collection of newspaper cuttings, photographs and diaries dating back to 1995 which Selka recently discovered.

Viewing this material as an adult, Selka felt moved to create a mixture of figurative and abstract paintings which blend the hope and celebration around this groundbreaking procedure, with the pain and uncertainty of struggles all young adults face.

The result is a series of paintings which present everyday childhood themes and scenes; ballet lessons, ponies, soft toys and family portraits, with a stark clinical vibe.

Selka said: “The themes within my collection Bones are personal, painful, and celebratory. They catch emotions and memories from my whole life, while exploring the themes that all of us on the cusp of our 30s face.”

These paintings, hung on the exposed brick walls of South Block, are raw and stark. They are not necessarily eye-candy for the average living room, but there’s a haunting quality to them.

Selka plans to continue building on this body of work by taking part in a group show organised by Turner Prize winner, David Mach RA, in Dunfermline this March.

This exhibition is free to view and booking is not necessary.

V&A Dundee’s Night Fever: Designing Club Culture exhibition has been a huge hit. If you were planning on visiting but haven’t got round to it, you have until January 9 to shimmy around the show and its fabulous Silent Disco dance floor.

Following new Scottish Government guidance, V&A Dundee has reduced visitor capacities within the museum and Night Fever exhibition. This allows for safe distancing and for fresh air replacement across the museum but it also means booking ahead.