Creativity and daily practice: Cig Harvey in conversation with Brandei Estes
11th April 2023
British photographer Cig Harvey is celebrated for her fantastical, narrative-rich imagery which is strongly rooted in the natural world. Speaking about her work, she says: ‘My pictures are an urgent call to live. A primal roar. Be here, now. Experience this. Feel this. They are an invitation to experience the natural world in an immersive way, to find and celebrate beauty in the everyday. I want people to see my work and seek more joy and appreciate and savor this day because tomorrow will be different. Time is the only currency.’ Her surrealist-style photographs, drawings, writing, diagrams – and more – highlight how creativity and expression is at the core of her daily practice. She talks to Head of Photographs in Europe, Middle East and Asia for Sotheby’s Brandei Estes about her work and approach.
Cig Harvey is a British-born artist and writer living in Maine, USA, and working in large-format color photography and poetry. Rich in implied narrative, saturated in color, and deeply rooted in the natural world, her work is devoted to the topic of what it is to feel. Cig has published five sold-out books: Blue Violet (Monacelli/Phaidon, 2021), Reveal (with Debbie Fleming Caffrey and Andrea Modica; Yoffy Press, 2020); You an Orchestra You a Bomb (Schilt Publishing, 2017); Gardening at Night (Schilt Publishing, 2015); and You Look at Me Like an Emergency (Schilt Publishing, 2012).
Cig’s photographs and books are in the permanent collections of museums across the world, including The Library of Congress (NewYork, New York): Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut); Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, Texas); the Farnsworth Art Museum (Rockland, Maine); and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House (Rochester, New York). She is represented by galleries worldwide and has exhibited at Paris Photo, Art Miami, and at AIPAD (New York) for the past fifteen years. She had her first solo museum show at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway (2012), and more recently at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in Maine (2019).
Cig was awarded the Prix Virginia Laureate (2018) and the Farnsworth Art Museum’s Maine in America Award (2021). She has been a nominee for the John Gutmann Fellowship, the Santa Fe\ Prize, and the Prix Pictet, and a finalist for the BMW Prize, the Estee Lauder Collection, the Karl Lagerfeld Collection at Paris Photo, the Clarence John Laughlin Award, and the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. Most recently in 2022 Eat flowers won the Fine Press Book Associations Judge’s Choice Award for Best Book in Show at the Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair. Cig was the beneficiary of JP Morgan’s Highlighted Artist at Paris Photo 2022. Cig lives in a farmhouse in Maine with her husband Doug and daughter Scout. The passing of time and the natural surroundings of her rural home has made her alert to the magic in the mundane. Cig is a member of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) and the Society of Professional Journalism (SPJ).
Brandei Estes is Head of Photographs, EMEA at Sotheby’s. Prior to joining in 2013, she worked in photography and contemporary galleries in London and Paris for over ten years. Brandei is a regular judge and nominator for photographic prizes and competitions, and lectures throughout the year on collecting photographs and the photography market for public and private institutions, museums, galleries and fairs in the UK and continental Europe.
Brandei Estes is Head of Photographs in Europe, Middle East and Asia for Sotheby’s and spent over ten years working in photography and contemporary art galleries in London and Paris before joining Sotheby’s in 2013. Ms. Estes has been instrumental in the growth of the Photographs sales in Europe and further afield, and is the lead business getter for the department. Her comprehensive role within the team also includes professional writing, research and all aspects of auction estimates, fair market value, charitable donation and insurance appraisals.
Ms. Estes is regularly a judge and nominator for numerous international photography awards including the Prix Pictet and the Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability, and served for five years as the Chair for the committee of The Photographers’ Gallery TPG Contemporaries. Ms. Estes lectures throughout the year on collecting photographs and the photography market for public and private institutions, museums, galleries and fairs in the UK and continental Europe. Ms. Estes is a graduate of University College London, where she received a double honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian and History of Art.