Artist Henrietta Harris tells us how she balances the digital world with her painting practice

20 November 2019
By Fashion Quarterly

Henrietta Harris by Greta van der Star

As part of our first annual Fashion Quarterly Power List we’re talking to some of the women featured about getting work done on-the-go.

In association with the new Samsung Galaxy Note10 – which allows busy people to get more things done – we’ve highlighted a selection of dynamic, creative Kiwi women who are shaping their communities and creating change. Local artist Henrietta Harris is one to watch; working with a sensitive, muted palette, her enigmatic portraits and moody landscapes have become well known (and much loved.) Her most recent body of work, Hidden People, was informed by a trip to Iceland for the NES Artist Residency in Skagaströnd.

RELATED: Meet the 20 creative leaders making up Fashion Quarterly’s Power List for 2019

We spoke to Henrietta about how she navigates the digital world while maintaining balance with her painting practice and daily life:

FQ: Could you describe a standard day for you?

Henrietta Harris: I wake up at exactly 7.16am each morning, read my phone for a bit, walk into my studio around 9:00am, paint, lunch, coffee, paint, have a sore back, home, gym, dinner.

How often do you use your mobile device and what do you use it for?

I’m trying to cut down – I’ve taken all social media off except Instagram, but I still check it every second of every day. I use it for messaging, emails, taking lots of work-in-progress shots, and listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks. I’m not very good at actually talking on the phone though.

How does technology, specifically your mobile device, help you navigate life and your daily hustle?

It provides entertainment while I’m working, and obviously it’s how I communicate with clients and my galleries and agents, etc. I’m not sure how I’d work without it.

Painting by Henrietta Harris

Does technology help facilitate the work that you do, if so how?

I use Photoshop to help me plan out work, working from photos I’ve taken. I also take photos of work as I go, as I often notice things on a screen that I don’t see in real life.

As far as fostering a dialogue within your industry, how does technology support this?

I guess everything is so immediate now it’s easier to see what’s going on straight away, everyone is a DM away.

Do you use technology and your mobile device to find fresh inspiration, new ideas and possible collaborators?

Yes definitely. I’ve discovered many people through various social media channels, and it’s an amazing way of instantly contacting someone on the other side of the world.

Have technology, mobile devices and the digital world helped open up a broader sphere of conversation and action for you?

Yes, it’s made me way more socially aware as it’s impossible to miss what’s going on every second unless you stay off all news sites – I do a lot of reading and listening I think.

Henrietta Harris by Michael James Rooke
How do you use utilise technology to market yourself and your work, and communicate and engage with your community?

I post work on various social media channels, and sometimes reply to messages… I try not to put things that are too personal up there though. I get too overwhelmed by it all.

Do you think technology and the evolution of mobile devices have changed the art industry?

Absolutely. I mean I guess it’s all I’ve ever known in my career, but I think it’s made it way easier to self-promote, discover people, and get an idea of what people like and dislike. Although it’s also important not to worry about that too much. And it’s also important to go out and see art in real life and not just on a screen.

Photos: Greta van der Star; Michael James Rooke for Fashion Quarterly issue 1, 2019, featuring Henrietta’s work Hidden People 2018, courtesy of Melanie Roger Gallery.


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