I’m a Wellington based mixed media artist. I grew up in rural Australia with multidisciplinary artist parents, I watched them paint, sculpt, create lead-light windows, ceramics, textiles and jewellery; I played with these wonderful mediums throughout my youth with my Mother instilling in me a love for practical and creative ability. Art was my only love at school, and after travelling in my early twenties I worked for an art agent, realising being an artist is what I wanted to do. Moving to Sydney I spent 6 months at Julian Ashton Art School in The Rocks learning to draw from plaster casts, creating a skill based foundation, and a portfolio in preparation to apply to The National Art School in Darlinghurst, Australia’s leading independent fine art school. The National Art Schools commitment to the ‘atelier method’ meant drawing was a core part of the curriculum, with leading practicing artists as tutors, students spent many hours a week drawing as a compulsory facet of the course.

Majoring in Sculpture I learnt to use a chainsaw, cast in bronze, weld, and many other exciting skills, but redirected my focus to drawing for my (Honours) fourth year. I always loved works on paper and my drawing teachers were an inspiration to me. Susan Andrews taught me how to develop an idea, Suzanne Archer about balance, and Lynne Eastaway how to find connection in my work. I was encouraged to embrace a myriad of materials and processes, enjoying the intersect between sculpture and drawing. 

Relocating to NZ in 2014 with my Wellington born husband and 2 children, I finally set up a studio in 2020 and have been able to focus on my art now my children are teenagers. I’ve exhibited with The Kings College Art Show, The NZ Art Show, The NZAFA, Craigs Aspiring Art Prize and The Parkin Drawing Prize. Last year I had a solo show at Thistle Hall. I’m a member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Art and have enjoyed volunteering with them as a gallery assistant; hanging exhibitions including The Parkin Drawing Prize for the last 3 years. Hanging 'The Parkin' is an exciting process, starting with the unwrapping and documentation of the artworks with a wonderful group of volunteers. We’re all wide eyed like children on Christmas morning discovering the fabulous and varied works, then readying them for hanging. After my first year hanging the Parkin I was so inspired by the different interpretations of drawing. I love that the Parkin embraces the idea that anything can be drawing; steering away from the purely traditional idea of what drawing is and encouraging different concepts of what drawing can be. I think the blind judging invites artist experimentation which is another exciting element of the prize. 

In 2021 I applied for the Parkin and didn’t get in but knew it was a goal I wanted to work towards for future exhibitions. In 2022 I was accepted, exhibiting a large black and white abstract landscape collage called “Down In the Valley By the Stream”, a work about disconnections to nature and societies obsession with manipulation of images; a monochromatic artwork with the colour stripped away. In 2023 I entered two works with one accepted. I won a merit award for my assemblage of repurposed piano keys called “Take It Away”, a narrative on societal disjuncture to craftsmanship and how objects of sentimentality are becoming easily discarded. 

My practice continues to reflect a love of textural works on paper and the crossover between sculpture and drawing. Through mark making and assemblage my process focuses on patterns, shapes and repetition; layering materials such as ink, shellac, collage, thread, and with the repurposing of found objects. My abstract work is inspired by my surroundings, with the subtle constant narrative in my work being the effects on the environment through overpopulation, disconnection and citification. 

I am currently working on a large paper artwork I hope to enter this year if I finish it in time…fingers crossed. 


Emily Harris - What Drawing Can Be




Wednesday 28 February 2024 

Entries opened.

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Entries closed 1pm. 

26 June 2024

Works shortlisted for the prize announced.

 Monday 15 July – Friday 26 July 2024 

Works shortlisted for the prize to arrive at the Academy by 4pm.

 5 August 2024

The winner will be announced at the official awards evening at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

6 August – 1 September 2024 

The exhibition opens to the public.

Parkin Drawing Prize reserves the right to change any of the above dates.



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