Judith Le Harivel
I was born into a working class family in Oldham, Lancashire, England. My parents, William and Vera Moores had three children, Veronica, Malcolm and me, the youngest. Never having liked my surname, I swapped it for my husband’s more interesting Le Harivel when I came to New Zealand in 1995.
I don’t remember my primary school years much. I was ill a lot as a child and didn’t attend school regularly. I spent a lot of time at home making things – sewing dolls, making shell pictures, pressing flowers. I remember I won a hamper of Cadbury’s products for a picture I made out of chocolate wrappers. I was in heaven and I’ve still got one of the tins.
I didn’t enjoy my rather conservative girl’s secondary school, but I suspect it gave me the impetus to go to university and develop my career. I studied art but I wanted to have a career that combined both arts and science and applied to study architecture. The headmistress didn’t think it was very appropriate for a working class girl, but my art teacher, Mrs Woods, was very supportive.
I spent five years studying architecture at Nottingham University and what is now the University of Westminster, London. As a generalist, I enjoyed the mix of arts and science. The course gave me excellent design training and a broad understanding of a wide range of subjects. My most influential tutors were practising architects who combined practicality and realism with creativity - an approach that I have found valuable.
Later I studied for a Master of Public Administration - not art-related, but it broadened my education immensely and confirmed that the thinking process of an artist/designer is quite specific. (A friend of mine, having been sent on a design course, commented that now she understood why I think differently). It’s interesting to note that educationalists are now promoting creativity in non-artistic professions.
I have had a few careers, mostly outside the arts. I worked as an architect in Kenya (VSO), London and Glasgow, mostly in housing and latterly in a co-operative working in deprived communities. I began to enjoy the community housing work more than the architecture and I started to work with housing associations in development and management. When I came to New Zealand I became a public servant, working in housing policy and operations.
While working, I explored courses in textiles, embroidery, stone carving and glass. Although I enjoyed my paid work I was always making objects and became increasingly frustrated with the bureaucratic requirements of my job. I realised I needed more than a few weekend art courses to re-kindle my creativity. I enrolled in The Learning Connexion and am currently completing my honours diploma in creativity. I used to have a narrow view of arts practice as painting and drawing; TLC has encouraged my creativity and shown me that I practise art as a maker. As with my previous education I’ve been influenced by and learned much from tutors who are also practitioners and significant artists/makers – Mel Ford and Sarah Brock in particular, but also Dan Wilkinson, Robert Franken, Perry Scott, Dennis Berdinner, Marci Tackett, Hanne Eriksen Mapp, Aaron Frater, Keith Grinter amongst many others.
Basically I just like making objects, particularly additive sculpting, so I’m always keen to explore different materials and ideas. I’m a Pisces and sometimes I think that my art swims in two (or more) directions - cast glass (mostly abstract and refined) and ceramic/ Pal Tiya (mostly quirky animals). But I’m also besotted with textiles so I’m thinking about how I can use textiles differently and with other mediums. I’ve collaborated with other artists on exhibitions and would like to do more. My goal is to produce well-crafted works that people enjoy and admire. My TLC studies have given me confidence to develop my art work and to exhibit. I have taken part in a number of exhibitions and I’m most proud of being accepted for the Shapeshifter 2016 exhibition and selling all my exhibited artworks.
There are so many artists I admire – Kirstie Rea, Mari Meszaros , Karen Lamonte, Irene Frolic, Gerry King, David Reekie, Christina Bothwell, Karen Lamonte, Masayo Odahashi, Anne Robinson, Christine Cathie – glass artists who push the boundaries. Sophie Ryder, Sally Matthews, Beth Cavener Stitcher, George Lafayette, Ousmane Sow, Evelyne Galinski, Di Conway, Grayson Perry, Yinka Shonibare – sculptors/ceramicists whose work evokes an emotional response and makes me think.
I enjoy working in 3D and am currently experimenting with sculptural forms in glass, ceramics and Pal Tiya. I enjoy natural and organic forms, using different media to bring alternative perspectives to my work. As a maker I strive to create well-executed, thoughtful and at times quirky artwork.
This quote best sums up how I feel about art:
"Art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."
- Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park.
My work can be viewed at Tutere Gallery & Creative Space where I exhibit regularly