Pretty Girls Doing Horrid Things

by COD Magazine


‘From 12 or 14 to 18 or 20 is that period of life in which the tide of natural affection runs the lowest, leaving the body and the intellect unfettered and unweakened in the work of development and leaving the heart itself open for the strong passions and overwhelming preferences that will then seize it. Sad to say, it is the softer sex especially which is said to go through a period of almost utter heartlessness.’ – The Times, 1865

What is this show about?
Jessica Harby – Teenage girls, villainy, shifting identity, Patty Hearst. It is young femininity and violence, in well-behaved materials like pencil and embroidery.

Who is Patty Hearst?
JH – PATTY HEARST is a rich American heiress who was kidnapped by a group of California revolutionaries at the age of nineteen in 1974 and reprogrammed to be TANIA, hero of disenfranchised youth, owner of a large gun and a beret, robber of banks and shooter of shopping centres, who was eventually captured by the police, in whose custody she was reprogrammed to be PATTY HEARST, a rich American heiress.

Why make art about Patty Hearst?
JH – Primarily, because it’s taken me five years to form an opinion about her. So she’s my favourite. In terms of the work, she is an extreme representation of what it is to grow up female. We are innocent, we are angry and unruly, we are constantly pretending. Most interesting to me is not whether Patty was brainwashed, but that everyone so readily believed that her revolutionary makeover was reasonable and possible and to be expected. There is an understanding that all girls relish an opportunity to be steered wrong due to the female ability to soak up evil. Which is why we remain so very terrifying.

Also, it is the 1970s again. Surprise!

Pretty Girls Doing Horrid Things, recent work by Jessica Harby The Artist’s Sanctuary, Northampton Opening 17th February 6-9pm, private view featuring refreshments and zines Running through 16th March, 11am-4pm daily (excluding Sundays) For more information on the opening, see the Facebook event page
For more information on Jessica Harby, see her website