While she may be primarily known for her years of indelible music, PJ Harvey has had her hands in all manner of artistic endeavours over the years, from sculpting and painting, to acting and poetry. Fans will get a glimpse of the latter in her forthcoming book, The Hollow of the Hand, when she appears at the recently announced London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre this October.
The book of photographs and poems is a collaboration with Seamus Murphy, and documents the duo’s journey throughout the world to far-flung and dangerous locations such as Afghanistan, Kosovo, and, scariest of all: Washington D.C. Murphy, an Irish documentary filmmaker, previously shot all of the music videos for her previous album Let England Shake.
“Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about,” she’s said of the book. “I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with.”
Harvey, who’ll read from the book, will also be debuting new musical material, much of which she’s spent the early part of the year recording live in front of an audience at London’s Somerset House. One of the songs is reportedly called "Near The Memorials to Vietnam and Lincoln”, which would be in keeping with the tone of the book’s journey to Washington D.C.
Murphy explained their shared aesthetic in an interview a few years back. “What she said was that when she saw my work, it had an emotional impact. Although Afghanistan is obviously a troubled place, the book and the exhibition has very little of war in it, although most of the pictures are taken during wartime. But a lot of them are quiet pictures. I think it was that emotional storytelling that appealed to her.”
You can buy tickets for the London Literature Festival here.