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Interview with Helen Harvey, A New Zealand Artist of Weaving and Painting

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

Hi, Helen! Thank you for agreeing to be part of my Interview Series. For our readers, we met through Lisa Mann’s (Fine Artist) Virtual Calm, Courage & Creativity class, which allowed us to meet since you live in New Zealand.

1. Talk about weaving and what you love about it most?

Weaving non-functional textiles, such as wall hangings, allows me to imbue them with meaning. Currently on the loom is a series celebrating conservation gains in New Zealand, such as areas made into wildlife reserves. The main material I am using is super chunky wool which I rescued from landfill. Concern about textile waste is what inspired me to learn weaving in the first place.

2. How does growing up and living in New Zealand inspire your art?

In both childhood and adulthood, I’ve been lucky to spend time outdoors. While broad landscapes can be stunning, close-up details like pattern and texture fascinate me; moss and lichen on a rock can look like a global community in miniature. Through drawing on beauty, I hope to inspire others’ appreciation in the nature around us.

3. What else do you plan to explore in your creativity in the next six months?

Combining textiles with painting, such as graffiti with a social message on handwoven cloth. And going even larger: textiles like hanging gardens which drip from the ceiling to the floor, and paintings on large custom-made panels.

4. In terms of abstract painting, what have you learned that you didn’t expect?

The paintings become animate and influence the direction that mark-making should take. Sometimes it is not the direction I would have chosen, but I surrender to the process. Coming from an applied arts background of landscape design, where a degree of realism is necessary, I didn’t realize how much I would absolutely love abstract painting.

5. What else inspires your creativity?

Beyond my natural environment, I sense a dream-like world, inspiring my art. It comes to be in glimpses, when pondering or meditating, of a vitality that goes beyond what I observe visually. A desire for wholeness drives me to incorporate both seen and unseen worlds into art.

—Written by Amanda L. Mottorn, © 2022, author of Finding Moksha: One Woman’s Path in Uncertain Times and Artist at Modern Moksha Designs & Publishing.

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