Harley Weir has garnered an international reputation as one of the most in-demand creatives working today. An image-maker who continually subverts the expected, Weir has enormously influenced ideas of how a woman’s gaze might be engaged with, reshaped and made new in our current era. For Weir, the camera is a vehicle for gaining knowledge; and through her personal work, she has sought to increase awareness around plastic waste, the rights of refugees, marine conservation, and therapeutic support for young people, among other issues. Inspired by a ‘70s Kung-Fu periodical, Plaster is a collectable poster magazine with each issue dedicated to a genre-defining creative. Devised by brothers Milo Astaire and Finn Constantine, each issue of Plaster materialises through an organic collaboration with its featured artist. Functioning like a bible into Weir’s world, Plaster’s latest issue folds out into an original A1 artwork conceived by Weir, Bella Donna. This striking photographic collage was produced through experiments with negatives and light-sensitive paper and exemplifies her distinctively tender approach to image-making with gentle contrasting colours and ethereal light. To learn more about Weir’s compelling practice and her new collaboration, Something Curated spoke with the artist.
Something Curated: Do you have a recollection of the first photograph(s) you ever took?
Harley Weir: My mother used to give me disposable cameras to take on school trips. I think possibly the earliest most memorable image was of a male pig trying to have sex with a female pig on a farm… quite unsuccessfully, at least in my eyes. It was a very blurry image.
SC: How did your collaboration with Plaster Magazine come about; and can you tell us a bit about how the new issue took shape?
HW: An email. Finn [Constantine] and Milo [Astaire] then came to visit me in Kent at a church I had been doing up with my boyfriend at the time – a great day.
SC: You’ve previously talked about your work in relation to the idea of the muse — when did this interest or way of working emerge?
HW: It was right from the start. I would photograph images of my sister to paint from. She became my muse and eventually photography took over.
SC: Could you expand on the original work, Bella Donna, which you have created for Plaster?
HW: The image begins with a photograph of Bella Hadid from a fashion shoot I did a while back; I then collaged onto it using analogue techniques in the darkroom and bodily fluids and other waste products that change the chemistry of the paper and create an almost painted effect on the prints.
SC: What are you currently reading?
HW: I’m reading Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway as I recently photographed a bullfighter. It bought about a lot of violent contradictions in me and I wanted to research more on the topic.
Feature image: Harley Weir. Photography by Finn Constantine