2019 highlights


Emily Cumming Harris, Untitled (White-flowering mānuka and pōhutukawa). 1906. Oil on straw board, 810 x 520mm. Galpin collection.

Setting up a research website in February this year to host source materials and edited publications was a breakthrough moment for the Emily Harris project. The website is a way to organise some of the research trails we are following in order to draw attention to Emily’s art and writing. It’s great to be able to point people at The Family Songbook or Writing Lines, our two big editing projects, or to pull up reference images of New Zealand Flowers, Berries and Ferns and the Harris Weyergang Album Photographique. Then there is the blog with its weekly news bulletins showing the ups and downs of the research journey. We value the blog for its capacity to carry multiple voices: we’ve all taken turns at writing posts and have enjoyed working with guest contributors. We’re hoping that website and blog are forming a coherent base for further archival, critical and creative projects. We regard website content as a nucleus that foregrounds Emily Harris and grows new texts, artwork and performances that bring her work into the 21st century.

Thanks to Harris descendants and the many people who have helped us in libraries, museums and galleries, in person or via digital platforms, we have had a remarkable research year. Here are some of the Harris-related items that came to light in 2019:

Then there are the 10 complete hand-coloured sets of New Zealand Flowers, Berries and Ferns plus 4 partial sets that we have traced in museums and libraries in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. We’ve assembled a database of images and descriptions that is beginning to yield detailed understanding of Emily’s technique and her ambitions for the only book publication of her work during her lifetime.

To celebrate almost four years of Emily Harris research, past and present members of the team got together recently at a cafe in downtown Auckland. We farewelled Betty, who is moving to Wellington, and welcomed Brianna and Dasha who are joining us over the summer.

Team Emily at Neo Cafe, Auckland, December 2019. From left to right: Betty Davis, Makyla Curtis, Michele Leggott, Dasha Zapisetskaya, Brianna Vincent, and Ricci van Elburg.

Lead writer: Michele Leggott
Research support: Makyla Curtis, Betty Davis

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