In my last blog, I promised to introduce you more closely to some of our 'special guests' in award-winning artist Norrie Harman's solo exhibition, 'Way Out West'.
We have to start with this:
'Kim Kim', Watercolour and Indian Ink, by Norrie Harman.
I was smitten the first time I saw 'Kim Kim'. This mysterious and attractive young woman in an almost Goddess-like pose, with her protector at her feet, captivated me immediately.
Initially I was bowled over by 'Kim Kim' simply as an exceptional example of drawing and painting, yet even at first sight I knew that there was more to her than meets the eye. It's interesting that, on first impression, viewers of Norrie's work cannot escape his hard-hitting and powerful imagery. Strong and confident images, of course, but also beautiful and sensitive, definitely menacing, but ultimately real and meaningful.
'Kim Kim', detail, by Norrie Harman.
You see, at the risk of taking away all the magic and mystery, 'Kim Kim' is a fragment of Norrie's childhood memories. Kim, as she was usually known, was the daughter of the first Japanese family ever to move into the Wester Hailes area, where Norrie grew up in the 1980's. She and her family obviously attracted a great deal of attention and interest from the other residents of the tight-knit and sometimes suspicious community. Kim may have been exotic, but she was also different and something of an unknown. Her life, and that of her family, was pretty difficult and so they enlisted the support of a Doberman dog - traditionally an attack dog - to offer some support, security and perhaps even friendship. Coincidentally, the Harman family also had a Doberman at that time, a bitch called Kim, whose role was also to offer security and companionship.
It took a while for the penny to drop, for me to understand the significance of the blindfold in the portrayal of 'Kim Kim', but now it's so obvious it's painful. In the privacy of her own space and with her best and perhaps only friend at her side, Kim attempts the futile gesture of disguising the fact that she is different.
I could be wrong, but if this painting doesn't demonstrate a deep-rooted sensitivity, and an empathy with the subject matter, then I'm not sure what does.
Hurry back soon, and if you're lucky we will take a more intimate look at one of Norrie Harman's more controversial works, 'Methadone Love III'.