If you've not yet been online aquatinted with our current resident angel, Harley of 'Harley and Handen' - now's the time to read up. This talented lady has been working on a number of different creative projects around Brisbane, kicking goals in the crafty community. We were very excited to have her with us for a 4 week residency at The Culprit Club while she created her in house project - an embroidered and embellished denim jacket surrounding the theme of heartbreak. Get to know the influences and motivations of Harley through our catch up interview below!
How would you describe your style in one sentence?
Embroidery: Lost and confused, but finding it's way. Collage: Naughty, true blue, feminine.
Can you tell us a bit about the piece you're creating through your Culprit Club residency?
I'm doing my thing on a denim jacket I rescued from an op shop. I've themed it around heartbreak and missing someone. Over the past year or so I've been doing a lot of journalling and writing down my experiences and feelings, just as a therapeutic release. I never really like to publicly share stuff like that, but I recently decided it would be a great starting point and inspiration for my art. This jacket is mostly based off the time I spent with a great guy in NYC earlier this year, who I had to sadly leave behind when returning to Australia. The time I spent with him was amazing and kind of feels like a dream because I was so far from home. We would never have crossed paths any other way apart from the way that we did. I was working as a dancer at Pumps Brooklyn, and he was a customer. We instantly clicked, and spent most of the time I had left there together. He took me to art galleries and his favourite spots around NYC as he had lived there all his life, easily one of the best times in my life so far. The jacket also has some sub-stories in a way. I based it around friends, and friends of friends who have recently lost someone close to them. It's so devastating to hear when someone has passed, let alone passed when it really wasn't their time to leave. So this is kind of for them, as well as for me.
What inspired your focus on embroidery and embellishment?
I've always done embroidery, I was taught at a young age by my Ma, and have continued since then. Take away embroidery and there wouldn't be much else left in my life. It has taken me so, so long to get into apparel though. I was never confident enough in my own ideas for fashion, so I only took on commission works. This residency is a good kick in the butt to get my ideas rolling and to have something completed at the end.
How does this compare to your collage work?
My embroidery and my collage are still very different from each other, which I love. I think the funniest way to describe them is that they're both my children, but to two different baby daddies. After years of experimentation, I feel my collages now have a very individual style. I only use Australian flora and landscapes, paired with beautiful ladies from vintage Playboy and Penthouse magazines. I've recently started incorporating textured paint and scribbles over the top of them, in their frames, which I haven't seen many artists do, let alone collage artists, so I am extremely happy with where my collages are at the moment.
My embroidery is still finding it's feet as I don't have a unique illustration style. I have played around with doing Australian flora but I didn't enjoy the final outcomes. It's still a work in progress which I am enjoying.
How/where did these creative interests begin?
Lately I've grabbed inspo' from my travels and adventures, also my feelings and the weird thoughts I have to myself on the train, after I've been left on seen, or when I've fallen completely in love with someone I've known for a day. I've enjoyed being a little more transparent about the emotions we all go through yet mostly just keep to ourselves. My life has definitely improved by openly talking about experiences and emotions I go through.
What's the story behind the name, Harley and Händen? (we're assuming handen as a German reference to hand?)
Yeah! Firstly, I wanted my name to be in it, and also the initials to be H&H. I based it off the word 'hand' because I never want to go into mass production, everything I make will be made by me, by hand. I chose to translate hand into Swedish because I always admired their simple and clean designs, which is something that my Ma constantly told me, "the back must be as neat as the front". Fast forward a year or two later, I was at a family reunion on my Dad's side, and I found out my great, great, great grandparents came over from Sweden on a boat, aged 21, so that was rad to find out.
Who're you favourite artists/ creative icons, and why?
My all-time favourite artist and person is Bob Dylan. Watching interviews and reading about him inspires me SO much. At such a young age he knew what he wanted, and he worked hard towards getting it. He didn't care what other people thought of him and dealt with the negativity in such a great way. He was kind of cocky and harsh at times, which I like, but confident and seemed like a very loyal friend once you were 'in'. One of my favourite interviews of his was the one he did in 1965 with Time Magazine, watch it when you have a spare six and a half minutes. I continue to admire him as he is 76 and still tours more days than he has off. His birthday is also exactly a week after mine, so I take that as a nice sign. Also rad artists such as Tyler, The Creator get's me going because they too don't give a fuck, they just do their thing. I'm definitely no where near as hectic and in-your-face as he is, but I definitely notice similar traits in the way he goes about his art.
If we were to trawl through your backpack, what would we find?
You'll always find at least one embroidery needle with thread attached, sometimes you'll be lucky to find a current WIP, Blistex, which has been a massive help this winter! Usually a stack of receipts or notes that have been in there for decades, lolly wrappers and a holographic purse. Nothing too crazy!
Do you think Brisbane has enough initiatives to offer local artists?
I think it does, but at the same time (just like Nutrigrain) you're only gunna get out what you put in. There's plenty of art collectives around, I'm involved in three: Primary Arcade, TBC and Brisbane Collage Club. These groups have helped me immensely both in self growth and my art, but all of this 'success' in a way also comes with sleepless nights, volunteering your time, energy and resources to help out with exhibitions or market days. Most of the people in these communities help you up and support you, they'll go out of their way to give you feedback or tag you in an article that could be helpful to you. I know there's also a lot of cool local publications that are helping out the creative community too. You just gotta remember you're only gunna get out what you put in.
Where can people find more of your work?
A website is still in progress, but the best way is to check in on my Instagram @harleyandhanden, I post a heap of progress shots in my story, and always have new content up every few days. I'm also vlogging my time at the Culprit Club, so check into YouTube for those.
Check our Haley's Vlog's here and stay tuned for a photo series blog of her completed residency project!