Polly looks like she looks, all darkly smudgy eyes and wide expressive mouth. She is tiny, the skinniest girl, dwarfed by her huge guitar. Head to toe in black, her long hair is centre parted and often covers half her face. When she looks to the side the little triangle of her nose is the only thing visible beyond her thick wavy hair.
At one point she straps on her guitar and starts to thrash out the rhythm of a song. Excitement ripples through the L.
She stands up, puts her guitar on its stand, applies lip balm and prepares to sing. It will be a guide track.
There are eight bars of intro - but she isn't sure where she is, she holds up four fingers with a quizzical expression.
The accompanying notes have an interview with Polly - she talks about the history of Somerset House and the time before the Embankment when the Thames flowed into the building.
'Heard it was 28,000' she sings, 'and watch them fade out'. Her voice is so familiar but I can't catch many more of the words. Maybe it's about drowning?
'I think that the intro was too long' says the drummer, 'I agree' I want to say.
One of the producers or engineers messes around with some cables. 'Maybe the best thing is if someone starts and then you all join in gradually' he says.
'No' she replies firmly and that is the end of that.
Hanging on my bedroom wall is a painting of Polly in the studio by Stella Vine - I hadn't thought about it before my visit - now it seems very apt. The intimate moment becomes public.
|Stella Vine, Polly, 2002, oil on board|
PJ Harvey: Recording in Progress
Presented by Artangel and Somerset House
From 16 January 2015