Jake Harvey studied sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art (1966 72) and went on to become the Head of School of Sculpture for eleven years. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Sculpture and lives and works in Maxton Cross near St Boswells in the Scottish Borders. He was elected RSA in 1989.
Harvey is a sculptor of elemental works, imbued with stillness, sense-stimulus and a sophisticated Zen-like simplicity. He chooses to work predominantly with earth-related materials including cast iron, though it is stone, the matrix of our planet, that is his preferred medium. He carves granite, basalt, marble and limestone, often placing or attaching the simple abstract forms directly on the wall or floor, or sometimes on shaped bases that can be set indoors or outside within a landscape. His formal language has an elegant, charged sensuality that communicates with peoples from all cultures.
A life-long experience of living and working in Scotland and the meditative aspect of fishing inform Harvey's approach to sculpture at a profound level. In addition, his extensive visits to museums, archaeological and architectural sites around the world to record the traces of man through drawing and photography, are the information gathering process and primary touchstones for his practice. Increasingly intrigued by the relationship of man to the earth and enthralled by the shaping of earth by man and vice versa, his sculptures retain the indexical mark of the maker and often subtly imply an indeterminate use or function.
In 2003 Jake Harvey was lead artist on the critically acclaimed AN TURAS project on the Isle of Tiree. This 50-metre-long experiential artwork was built as a ferry shelter that echoed the topography and indigenous architecture of the island. AN TURAS won many accolades including the RIAS Building of the Year, the RIBA Regional Award, the RSA Gold Medal and was on the shortlist for the Mies van der Rohe Award and the RIBA Stirling Award.
From 2007 to 2011 Harvey conceived and structured The STONE Project, with Noe Mendelle, and Joel Fisher through the Edinburgh College of Art.
As Principal Investigator and the main contributor of the photographic content of this ambitious four-year STONE research project, Harvey oversaw the core aims; to collect information about stone from multiple perspectives, to discover differences in how stone is understood and worked throughout the world, to understand approaches to thinking inherent to the process, and to articulate these modes of understanding in ways that may be more broadly applicable. The ultimate aim was to assemble all these achievements in an archive for the use of current and future generations.
This research has resulted in a major publication: STONE: A Legacy and Inspiration for Art, 2011, Black Dog Publishing.