Digital Art School: Andy Harper

Seasalt is teaming up with charity partner Hospital Rooms to bring you a series of artist-led tutorials. Next up, painter Andy Harper.


Black and white paintings

Andy Harper’s workshop explores sound and the process of listening to generate abstract drawings and paintings. This is a simple exercise which can be repeated indefinitely to your favourite music.

You will need:

  • A4 or A3 cartridge or watercolour paper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Watercolour paint
  • A jar of water
  • A music source of your choice, such as a radio, laptop or phone.

Fancy joining in with others for this workshop? You can #createalong with Andy on the 15th of Octobersign up.


The second Cornish artist to host an online tutorial in conjunction with Seasalt and Hospital Rooms is Andy Harper. Another St Just local who has a studio in St Ives, Andy works in oil on either canvas, linen, or aluminium. His exacting and realistic tableaux feature organic forms – leaves, seed pods, stems, bones and human limbs – are painted from a variety of perspectives and characterised by deep earth tones of brown, orange and umber, which bring to mind moody tapestries. Through his contrast of light and dark he achieves a fantastical binary visual of growth and decay, ethereally depicting the progress of life.

Having grown up in Torquay, Devon, Andy studied Fine Art at Brighton Polytechnic, then latterly at the Royal College of Art before co-founding NotCut studios in London and going on to study Visual Culture at Middlesex University. As well as exhibiting in a long list of countries across the globe, Harper has taught in many national and international institutions including holding posts at Central St Martins and The City Lit. He is currently a Senior Lecturer on the MFA Fine programme at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Can you tell us a bit about your artistic practice?

My artistic practice is predominantly studio-based painting but in recent years I have been trying to find ways to make work in sound. I need to find a way in which the process suits my sensibility towards making. That’s what has happened with how I make paintings over the years, it fits the way I think and act. It’s a direct method of painting, quick, almost immediate, physical like dance.

Tell us about your online workshop and what people can expect…

It uses sound and the process of listening to generate abstract drawings and paintings. A simple exercise which we can take away and repeat indefinitely possibly to our own selection of sounds or music.

How does Cornwall impact, influence or find its way into your work?

In ways that ironically are not visual. My physical engagement with the landscape through cycling, walking or surfing play as much a role as my observation of it.

This season our designers were inspired by the Cornish Modernists – has the work of these pioneers of the twentieth century laid any foundations for you, or does your work take any lead from these artists?

In the past I have appropriated images from the Cornish Modernists, such as Peter Lanyon’s painting ‘St Just’, and although the register of my work is visually very different, I enjoy their work immensely. In the example above I consciously put it in conversation with their work.

Can you tell us a little about your connection to Seasalt?

I met many of the senior staff of Seasalt involved with the Hospital Rooms project at a meeting in Plymouth before undertaking a project at Greenfields, also in Plymouth. That evening, all the organisations collaborating on the project were present, and everyone seemed so enthusiastic and excited about the subsequent workshops and artworks that were commissioned for Greenfields. I learnt a great deal that evening talking to service users, key care staff and Seasalt’s objectives for the project.

Why did you decide to get involved with Hospital Rooms and Digital Art School?

I recently ran a digital workshop for ESMoA in Los Angeles and got a great deal out of the process for my own practice and thinking. I realised this would similarly be a great opportunity to push another aspect of my practice.

Which part of the project are you most excited about?

Using my work in sound alongside painting to devise an activity that I hope participants find as rewarding as I do. It’s a simple exercise that can be repeated indefinitely, and we can hopefully all get benefit from it for years to come.

What positive connections do you see between art and mental health?

Art is reflective and mindful. It provokes thought and curiosity, which surely improves mental health.

How do you feel about hosting a workshop online?

A little nervous, but that’s probably a good thing.

How have you found these Covid times?

Less difficult than dealing with my son’s broken ankle and the death of my father-in-law.

Who should get involved with Digital Art School?