BLK List - Harriet Were by Yasmine Ganley

11 January 2014

Harriet Were by Yasmine Ganley.

Although her roots are planted in the South, Waihopai Valley. Harriet Were's style and the way in which she sees the world is somewhat European.


I stumbled across Harriet's photographic work when I was looking through The Caker's new campaign imagery. My senses were greeted with a much more rustic and imperfect finish - some images so real I wanted to lick the page. "Images by Harriet Were" - I did some investigating. I found Harriet's work both sensitive to light and to her subject's energy. It is a quiet and observant quality which is just so darn appealing. 


Having adopted the familiar landscape of New Zealand for the unknown territory of France & London, it was in the Northern hemisphere that Harriet was gifted an automatic film camera from her then-boyfriend. It was from then on that she started to share her daily finds through her images.


A longing to spend a summer in New Zealand again was calling Harriet back home. She embraced this time to get her feet back on the familiar ground of the South. Nowadays, Harriet lives with her twin sister Carter, her boyfriend Felix and Mabel - her gorgeous little English Bull Terrier in Auckland. Both working for Little Bird Organics, Harriet gets up at 5am to cold press the juices for the day, and spends the afternoons helping out with their cook book, hanging out with Mabel and thinking up clothes, while Carter creates new recipes and food in the kitchen of the Kingsland branch. Their latest venture: Carter's Organic Sprouted Bread. An item on the menu you have to taste!


Through Harriet's images you get the sense of a traveler - someone who likes to get off the beaten track to witness something new, and a person who places value on her family and friends. The most sweetest family images are scattered through her collection: her siblings cracking up at spilt ice-cream, fly-on-the-wall moments of her Grandad Alf writing a cheque, and lovingly-taken images of her twin sister Carter. You get the feeling that Harriet is a person who is very much connected to her environment and her place within it. Equipped with a sharp eye for detail and shape, light and dark, one might assume that taking photographs is a very natural expression for Harriet. 


This sensibility extends throughout everything she does, from her long working relationship with her own personal dressmakers with whom she creates one-off pieces for her wardrobe - simply because she knows what she wants. A long-time lover of textiles, Harriet dreams up knitwear pieces and has them knitted by her "ladies" of which she says, "are fast! And so sweet..."


You can see her heart beam when she talks of her family home, describing its landscape and offerings, one of which was flax. With a long term aspiration to start her own line of flax-linens, something inside me suspects that the South still has a firm hold on Harriet's heart strings. But for now, the traveler inside her wants to play gypsy. I get the sense of a certain desire to project herself into places that are unknown, in order to continue to create beautiful images, each made out of, or inspired by, moments experienced for the first time. This is the true value and essence inside Harriet's images.

See more of Harriet here...



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