HSC Visual Art Resources

A resource site for visual art teachers and secondary students completing their HSC in the Visual Arts


Marcus Harvey
Maggie 2009
plaster and acrylic on aluminuim
440 x 366 cm

Marcus Harvey
side view of Maggie

Marcus Harvey
in progress shot of Maggie

Marcus Harvey, born 1963 Leeds, England, lives and works in London.

Marcus Harvey is a figurative painter that creates paintings of infamous figures and provocative scenarios, often using sculptural techniques, most notably with well known works, Myra(1995) and Maggie(2009). Graduating from the Goldsmith’s College in London during the late 1980’s, Harvey became part of the artist group, Young British Artists (YBAs).

The painting Myra was first exhibited at the Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in September 1997. it depicted a duplication of a photographic portrait repeatedly used in the media of Myra Hindley, a woman recently convicted of being a child murderer, killing 5 children within London. Painted in monochrome so as to resemble the BW image it represented, the portrait is a composed entirely of  duplicated hand prints from a child. These hand prints were made by taking the cast of a hand from a four year old girl, the daughter of a friend.

Such was the media saturation and public opinion over Myra Hindley that the public revolted against the Academy and the painting during its exhibition. various groups, including Mothers Against Murder And Aggression, accompanied by one of the victim’s mother,  protested outside Burlington House of the Royal Academy for the work to be removed. Windows were smashed and eggs and ink thrown at the painting, damaging it. Myra Hindley herself wrote to the Guardian newspaper pleading for its removal, it was condemned in the press, and caused resignations within the Royal Academy itself. During this process the painting was removed, restored and re-exhibited behind Perspex and guarded by security. the aim of the Sensation exhibition was to provoke but no one imagined just how strong the reaction to Harvey’s painting would be.

The next cultural icon Harvey chose to represent was Margaret Thatcher, prominent English Prime Minister, naming the painting, Maggie. The painting is comprised of over 15,000 plaster cast sculptural objects, containing, vegetables, Tony Blair masks and sex toys. the objects used to create the BW painting represent the Prime Ministers media profile, as well as British history, identity and moments of change during Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister. The painting took over 1,000 hours to complete, costing around £40,000-£50,000 to make and weighs over a ton.

Lately Harvey has been constructing door panel paintings, looking into domestic settings, depicted in a photo-realist manner. Distorted through patterned glass, it creates the sense of being the voyeur to an audience. Influenced by Edward Hopper’s darkly painted scenes, these paintings become peeping-tom like, intruding onto a private, intimate moments, influenced by themes of domesticity and voyeurism.

The whole point of the painting is the photograph. That photograph. The iconic power that has come to it as a result of years of obsessive media reproduction.

– Marcus Harvey on Myra

…the most divisive in the Academy’s 229 year history.

– a reporter on viewing Myra

Far from cynically exploiting her notoriety, Harvey’s grave and monumental canvas succeeds in conveying the enormity of the crime she committed. Seen from afar, through several doorways, Hindley’s face looms at us like an apparition. By the time we get close enough to realize that it is spattered with children’s handprints, the sense of menace becomes overwhelming.

– The Times art critic Richard Cork on Myra

Thatcher’s image has a magnetic, dark, complicated sexual allure that’s hard for me to define – it’s not exactly feminine and it does come with a pungent whiff of testosterone.

– Marcus Harvey on Maggie

The actual painting is in a sense mechanical transcription. The exciting part is the performance behind the door.

– Marcus Harvey

Marcus Harvey
Myra 1995
acrylic and canvas
396.2 x 320 cm

Marcus Harvey
Myra (detail)

Marcus Harvey
installation of Myra



  • Marcus Harvey, fine artist, studied at the Goldsmith’s College in London
  • part of the artist group, Young British Artists


  • Myra – made from hand prints in monochrome paint from a plaster cast of a child’s hand of an infamous child murderer.
  • Maggie – portrait of Margaret Thatcher using monochrome plaster casts of objects relating to British history, identity and change during Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister
  • large scale images using sculptural elements
  • door panel paintings, representing intimate, domestic scenes through a peeping-toms point of view


  • reacted strongly to the painting Myra, protests, complaints, resignations, damage to the painting itself with security required whilst being exhibited
  • recognises objects in Maggie portrait
  • identifies with feeling of being an intruder, peeping-tom with glass door paintings


  • politics within Britain, Margaret Thatcher, previous Prime Minister
  • Myra Hindly, child murderer in Britain, convicted of killing 5 children
  • media attention on Myra both national and international
  • Sensation exhibition
  • Young British Artists group

Marcus Harvey
Kids 2002
oil on MDF
244 x 103 cm

Marcus Harvey
Boy with a Blue Gun 2012
Acrylic on canvas on MDF



  • Myra – emotional, particularly when one knows what the portrait is of, wonder at how it was constructed, recognising the small child like hands
  • Maggie – fascination and a sense of wonder as to how all these objects have come together to create a portrait painting.
  • feelings of voyeurism and intrusion in the glass door paintings


  • Myra – painting of photographic portrait of infamous child killer in BW using the cast of a child’s hand to stamp hand-prints together to create the image
  • Maggie – painting of Margaret Thatcher, previous British Prime Minister, using objects to construct the monochrome portrait by using plaster cast of various objects, relating back to British culture, history and identity
  • large monochrome, black and white images
  • glass door paintings – resembles doors with patterned glass windows
  • oils and acrylics


  • artworks reference British history and politics
  • infamous figures of British history
  • objects that reference British identity in Maggie
  • Young British Artists movement


  • use of objects to construct a portrait painting in Maggie
  • use of unconventional painting implement with the casting of a child’s hand to paint Myra
  • referencing contemporary themes and politics
  • appropriation of media photographs in Myra and Maggie

Marcus Harvey
After Edward Hopper 2005
oil on canvas and MDF
2 panels each 229 x 89 cm

Marcus Harvey
Clown 2012
Acrylic on canvas on MDF
110 x 110 x 5cm


  • new painting techniques and experimentation
  • use of different painting materials
  • exploring object casting and placement to create large portraits
  • representation of political and infamous figures
  • works out of an artists studio space
  • explores concepts that can shock and provoke

Marcus Harvey
Girl in Burka with Red Underwear II 2007
oil on canvas
230 x 104 x 5 cm

Marcus Harvey
Boy In A Pig’s Mask 2012
Acrylic on canvas on MDF
110 x 110 x 5cm







Marcus Harvey
Jess 2002
Oil on MDF
244 x 103 cm



This entry was posted on 10/07/2012 by in All, English, Painting, Sculpture.
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