Rocker PJ Harvey hopes glass room will reflect history

Tue Jan 27, 2015 11:16am EST
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By Martinne Geller

LONDON (Reuters) - Art rocker PJ Harvey hopes that recording inside a glassed room at Somerset House in central London will help draw on the likes of Elizabeth I, who lived on its grounds before she was queen, and Oliver Cromwell, who lay in state there.

    A select group of visitors lucky enough to get tickets will watch Harvey, one of England's most original pop artists, chipping away at the coal face of music creation.

    Polly Jean Harvey, who has balanced eclecticism and mainstream popularity in a career spanning two decades, is recording her ninth album at the arts and cultural center on the River Thames in a celebration of the process of making art rather than the product.

    "I want it to operate as if we're an exhibition in an art gallery," Harvey said in an interview for a program accompanying the installation, tickets for which sold out in less than half an hour.

    During a month-long run, "Recording in Progress" will let some 2,000 people watch Harvey and a cast of musicians, producers and engineers through one-way glass in 45-minute visits.

    There are no guarantees what spectators will see. Emilie Vansuypeene, a 35-year-old musician from Lille, France, was "prepared to see people arguing for 50 minutes over one note".

    "I didn’t know what to expect,” Vansuypeene said.

    Through windows on two sides of a bright white room, a few dozen people watched Harvey, dressed head-to-toe in black, seated amidst a forest of sharp-angled microphone stands and a sea of cables snaking across the floor.   Continued...

PJ Harvey is applauded as she prepares to receive the 2011 Mercury Prize in London in this September 6, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Luke Macgregor/Files