'Bad Fairies', David Harrison

Painting of a fantasy scene with various Labour politicians and animals in a field at night

Oil on canvas, 91 x 91cm, 2005

Artist's statement

My work doesn’t set out to be political, but often is, as it deals with the environment and man’s impact on it: how the natural world suffers through our ignorance and neglect. Whatever we make ugly, nature makes beautiful again, weaving its magic spell over what we abandon. This creates a constant battle as mankind fights for dominance when we should instead be living in harmony. Nature is not our enemy.

Nature is seen as a dark force. To demonstrate this paranoia, eyes often watch us from my work: birds in trees, hares in meadows or unknown eyes sparkling from hedgerows. My paintings, like 'Bad Fairies', often have a fairytale quality to them. And, like fairytales, they are allegorical of a more sinister illusion conjured up by controlling powers. Bad Fairies are creatures that lie, cheat, deceive and destroy to satisfy their own lust for power.

There are four of them to symbolise the seasons and the elements. They are surrounded by plants, animals and insects; inhabitants of a disappearing world. Behind them stands a ballroom entrance that invites us into a dance macabre, but escaping from this is a stream of scorched birds.


David Harrison was born in London in 1954. He studied at St. Martin’s School of Art London 1980-84. Won an Arts Foundation Award 1999. Has been in many group shows including Mother Nature Vilma Gold Gallery London 2003, Dead Bird Show Whitechapel Project Space London 2004, East End Academy Whitechapel Art Gallery London 2004, London Now: Are We In Love Yet? Arts Centre St Petersburg Florida USA 2005 and Thinking the Unthinkable or Against Nature NGCA Sunderland 2005. His solo shows include Dance Macabre Farringdon London 2000 and David Harrison Victoria Miro Gallery London 2005.