Resistant to calling herself an artist up until recently, Anita Harris has been an active artist since her youth, and sports an extensive resume in the arts with an A-level Art Diploma from St.Augustine’s RC/CofE Upper School in Oxford (1990), a Foundation in Art Diploma from Banbury Oxford (1992), and a BA Hons in Art and Aesthetics from University of Wales Institute Cardiff (1996), and briefly took a night class in jewellery making before emigrating to Canada in 2001. In Calgary she took an Introduction to Art Therapy Class in 2002, and a Business of Art course from ACAD in 2003.
“I finally started calling myself ‘an artist’ 2 years ago at the age of 43”, telling us that labelling herself ‘an artist’ has been very liberating and encouraging.
Something that stuck with her, which her older brother pointed out was that “it’s hard to make a living and pay the rent doing art”, but Anita admits she has an innate burning need to explore, build and create, “If I don’t create I become despondent and unbearable”.
She kept doing art as a child, remembering her first set of wax crayons, then a Barbie Fashion Stencil set, a Spirograph set, a etch-a-sketch, as well as pompom kits, paper dolls, play dough, plasticine and watercolours. It was only when she attended college that she started using oil and acrylic paints
In the years Anita has been exhibiting her art at Motion Gallery we have seen delicate pen and ink illustrations, painted mandalas, oil and watercolour paintings but what she’s best loved for is her upcycled ‘Day of the Dead’ ceramics and dolls.
Anita has experimented with a wide range of materials and mediums, from photography, ceramics, printmaking, textiles and sewing, sculpture, acrylics, oils, watercolour, pastel, charcoal, pen and ink, pencil, and is currently recycling and upcycling oddities and treasures.
Being aware of the need to care for our environment, she tells us “one mans rubbish is another man’s gold’ and often finds used items in local charity shops, or gets given which she then repairs and brings back to life, with her unique style. if that item is loved enough and bought by someone else I’m ecstatic!
She describes her style is eclectic, vibrant, messy and frustrating. Her art is conceptual and thought inducing and because her interests are varied, she will usually work on a multitude of pieces at a time, allowing appropriate time for paint and glue to dry on the projects so she can constantly keep busy with more other pieces. At the moment Anita has been sewing a birthday gift, she has a commission for upcycling a kitsch cherub ceramic candle holder, as well as two acrylic paintings, and three more upcycled pieces.
In relation to her Upcycling art she tells us “I watched a program called ‘Bagpuss’ about a little girl who would find lost and discarded items, and then her toy cat ‘Bagpuss’ would come
alive, along with her toy mice, cuckoo clock and owl, and they would clean and fix the items and put them in her shop window until the owner came by and found them again. I can’t help but see a direct correlation between this show that I avidly loved as a youngster and what I’m doing now.”
While studying Art History and Aesthetics Anita was introduced to many artists and art styles. As well as being fortunate to have travelled extensively throughout her life, she now has a high regard for many indigenous and cultural art forms, from Chinese Buddhist Statues and Gardens, the Mexican Dia des Los Muertos celebrations, Australian Aboriginal art, Indian batiks and Mandalas, African wood carvings and textiles, Canadian Aboriginal Haida and American Aboriginal work to name a few.
She also has a high regard for the Pre-Raphaelites, like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris especially, Surrealism, especially Degas and Salvador Dali, European Impressionist works of Monet, American Expressionist Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Andy Warhol, English Modernist Sculptor Barbara Hepworth, British Contemporary artists Marc Quinn, Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst and Rachel Whiteread, to name a few, and adds “I currently enjoy following work by Naoto Hattori, Susanne Apgar, Annie Stegg Gerard, Mab Graves, Tory Manywounds, Elena Bushan and Jimmy Munkaspeni. Overall, I’m interested in anything and everything and like to approach everything with an open mind.”
“I harbour a secret interest in becoming a children’s storybook artist! Other than that I continue to make art because I need to create, and am always tickled pink and highly flattered and appreciative of all those who value, regard and buy my work.“
You can find and buy Anita’s art at Motion Gallery, through her husband, Jimmy Munkaspeni at Immaculate Concept Tattoo (and through his booth at Tattoo Conventions), on Instagram: @appleybum or on Facebook: Anita Harris Eclectic Expressions.
Written by Sandra Montgomery
Edited by Renee Laferriere