Harriet Goodall is a sculptural weaver whose material hunting ground is the eyrie property she lives on near Robertson. Trained and inspired by the late Virginia Kaiser, one of Australia’s pre-eminent basket makers, Harriet transforms objects she finds from the land into her creative bread and butter. She also teaches indigenous women at home and around the globe how to empower themselves through making. Harriet is currently busy working on a backlog of custom lighting commissions, the latest of which is California bound, and reveling in her successful solo exhibition at Sturt Gallery , Mittagong in June @harrietgoodallartist
My name is HARRIET GOODALL
My life in five words is… practice, passion, process, farm and family.
We moved to the Southern Highlands… in 2005. We had been travelling for a year, we were completely out of money and my parents had built a house on a few acres at Wildes Meadow. So we stayed there until a cottage on a Robertson farm became available, and we’ve been growing animals, vegetables and kids there for 13 years now. We have yet to come across a better place to live.
We love the Highlands because… it is perfectly placed between coast, country and city. It has a great mix of people, permanent and transient.
My favourite things to do here… are bushwalking and swimming in waterfalls with my loved ones.
Followers on my Instagram page see… images of my creative life, the commissions I make and retreats in exotic locations.
When it comes to creating, these are the truths I know… It is a discipline. If you don’t keep your bum in the seat, no work gets done. Also, comparing yourself to others is a waste of time; artistry can only be emulated, never recreated, because it is born within.
Growing up in the bush on a sheep property… gave me early up close experiences with life and death, and a perspective on what really matters.
I started weaving… in 2007 because weaving gave me an excuse to collect natural ephemera. My light bulb moment came when I had a visitor in my studio and we turned one of my random woven baskets upside down. She ordered three on the spot.
My inspiration comes from… the Australian landscape and the materials I find that reflect its essence to me.
In a sentence my work speaks of… ancient craft practices, contemporary environmental awareness and a love of the land.
When people see my work… I hope the contrast between tones and textures, soft and hard, transparent and solid, shape and line stir an emotion or create a heart swell.
My tip to those who want to start making is… be prepared to sacrifice monetary wealth for other riches.
The most precious piece of advice I ever received was… to follow my heart, from my brave father. That was in reference to whether to start a relationship with the boy who is now my husband.
The qualities I think have helped me become a success are… courage, tenacity, empathy, vulnerability and passion.
Keeping your work unique is a challenge as an artist because… social media has come into play and the whole world is in bed together. It can get quite cosy! Also you don’t get a regular pay packet and your hands get wrecked. But hours are flexible, and at the end there is something tangible to see for your efforts.
My favourite pieces in my home are… our paintings. All were made by artistic relatives and friends or gifted by loved ones.
My most precious loves are… my family and other animals.
I always take visitors to the Highlands… to a lookout on Lees Road. The escarpment drop gives you a bird’s eye view over the rainforest and coast.
My favourite place in the Highlands is… my parents’ garden and cottage at Wildes Meadow. (See Escape’s review on page 31.)
The lessons I hope my children learn from me… include the importance of forgiveness, a readiness to fail and laugh at yourself, a willingness to donate time to help others, having ethics that are not swayed by popular ideals and unconditional love.
I have spent much time learning… the weaving and making ways of several countries’ indigenous peoples, because if we don’t do as much as we can to help preserve traditional cultures it will all be irretrievably lost. And professionally, creating a body of work for a solo exhibition was a longstanding goal of mine. When the kids are older I’d like to do an artist residency overseas. And I’d also like to put together a book one day.
When it comes to my work… I never miss a deadline.
And finally, please finish this sentence: a piece of work by me is… from my heart and completely off the wall!