I never imagined I'd be able to witness one of my favourite artists hard at work in the studio but - along with 30 other equally enthusiastic and equally confused fans in a gloomy basement - that's exactly what happened.

The information available prior to experiencing PJ Harvey: Recording in Progress, presented by Artangel and Somerset House, was limited, with attendees being told that recording devices and mobiles would be confiscated during the 'exhibition' - yup, this was full on performance art. We all gathered in a room in the New Wing, deposited phones and coats, before being led down a spooky set of stairs to where Polly and her team sat in a glass room, recording her ninth studio album.

PJ Harvey and co. are certainly no strangers to when it comes to recording in a variety of different places - Let England Shake was recorded in St. Peter's Church in Eype, Dorset and To Bring You My Love was made in one of the old Townhouse recording studios near Battersea Power Station, so it is with no surprise they all looked comfortable in their new surroundings. Well, as comfortable as you can be in that situation.

At this point, a little past 11am, Harvey, dressed all in black, was of course in the center of the studio and center of attention, sipping water and nibbling on the occasional sherbet lemon by the look of things. Alongside Harvey were her longstanding producers Flood and John Parish, musicians, engineers and a lot of instruments (Harvey herself can play far too many to list, including the auto-harp). It was clear now that the 'mutating, multi-dimensional sound sculpture' we'd signed up for would entail gazing directly at Harvey and her crew as they worked on material - feeling slightly like a stalker watching a victim through the curtains in the comfort of their own home.

Amongst seemingly hundreds of cables, line drawings of goats and horses on the wall and lots of cups of coffee, the team exchanged minimal comments, appearing to understand each other without need for explanation. It all seemed very relaxed and nonchalant until Harvey announced, after a drum pattern had been trialled, that she wanted "something beautiful". It was a little odd as we all shuffled around in the weirdly hot basement every time a musician blocked our view, or if you couldn't see Harvey's face. And nobody was willing to miss her face for any considerable amount of time during our allotted 50 minutes.

It may not have been the most satisfying way to indulge in Harvey's music, and it was certainly no gig, but for anyone looking to see what the recording process entails, it was quite an insight, and very different from the art exhibitions normally held in this prestigious venue. In a conversation with Artangel's co-director, Michael Morris, Harvey said herself, "I want it to operate as if we're an exhibition in an art gallery."

There was little hope for those of us waiting for the beautiful wails of her voice... seconds away from recording some vocals, the sound was cut and we were duly escorted away by staff, feeling both slightly miffed and delighted.