Malcolm Harrison

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Born in 1947, Malcolm Harrison is best known as one of New Zealand's foremost craft artists.

Early in his career, Harrison acquired pattern drafting and garment construction skills at night schools and various textile manufacturers. These skills developed into a love affair with fabric and Harrison carved a successful niche for himself in 1960's Auckland as a clothing designer.

In the 1970's, Harrison began to shift from the commercial to the creative, producing quilts from workroom scraps. His first textiles exhibition was held in the Dennis Cohn Gallery in Auckland in 1979, which led to further acclaim and a national reputation as a craft artist. Alongside his many and various tapestries, embroidery and quilt works, Harrison created a series of dolls known as The Family, a constantly updated work-in-progress that spanned 33 years. However, Harrison is perhaps best-known for his major, commissioned craft works, including large-scale works in the BNZ Tower in Auckland and the North Shore City Council Chambers.

In addition to these two works, Harrison was commissioned by the Parliamentary Service Commission in 1994 to design and create two large-scale works for the refurbishment of Parliament buildings in Wellington. Completed in 1996, the works incorporated a combination of Maori flax weaving and European embroidery tradition in retelling stories of New Zealand history. Matters of Pride is the largest public artwork commissioned in New Zealand while the wall hanging Whanaungatanga (Relationships) involved four specialist Maori weavers and more than 700 embroiderers from 52 embroidery guilds. Both works, Harrison explained, are "about New Zealand, its people and our unique country."

In 2004 Harrison was selected as the inaugural recipient of the annual $65,000 Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Fellowship for his mastery of multiple craft genres, including embroidery, quilt-making and drawing. Judges also commended Harrison's impeccable craftsmanship, innovation, generosity and contribution to the arts in New Zealand.

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