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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Henrietta Harris: I Gave You All the Clues

A fearless, genre-free and technically confident exploration of what a portrait is and could be.
By Laetitia Laubscher
October 16, 2017
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Henrietta Harris: I Gave You All the Clues

A fearless, genre-free and technically confident exploration of what a portrait is and could be.
By Laetitia Laubscher
October 16, 2017
  shares

Henrietta Harris is a name that's been on the lips of any self-respecting New Zealand art fan/Instagram art fan for some time now. For those who only know her by her works, or don't know her at all, here are the cliff notes on the talented creative:

Harris started her life growing up in a vineyard in Kumeu, raised by an ex-lawyer turned winemaker and primary school art teacher. She herself ended up going to art school because she didn't really know what else to do. "I wasn't very good art school at all," she told the New Zealand Herald.

She graduated in 2006, but it was only after art school that she really honed her craft. Fast forward the next decade, and her work is exhibited across the globe – in Tokyo, London, New York and of course, Auckland. An ostrich egg she painted for the Department Store ended up serving as the inspiration of Karen Walker's resort collection. Jonah Hill wanted to buy some of her art, but it was already sold. Sam Smith liked a portrait she painted of him (one that the local New Zealand Universal Music office had commissioned) so much that he wanted to meet up with her. No confirmation as to whether Harris has yet taken up this offer, but substitutes are on hand should she waiver.

What makes Harris' work worth the chatter is its fearless, genre-free and technically confident exploration of what a portrait is and could be, but all the while still picking up on a sense of delicate humanity. "I like people to look a bit vulnerable or unsure, or to be quite alone," she says. "Eyes closed, or gazing at the ground. I'm drawn to that," she told the Pantograph Punch.

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