To say that Harriet McKay is talented would be a massive understatement. Incredibly smart, gorgeous, and humble, Harriet is one very clever and creative gal. Her debut exhibition Eye Pattern Blindness was a raging success. And by that, I mean that by the time This Is Radelaide got to the party a mere half hour after it began, more than two thirds of Harriet’s pieces were tagged as sold. Not bad for someone that was worried no one would show up!
Having seen it for ourselves, we can confirm that, without a doubt, Eye Pattern Blindness is only the beginning of the awesome things to come from this bloody brilliant 19-year-old. And no, that’s not a typo. With a style that is bold, geometrically mind blowing, and has a strong voice of it’s own, Harriet’s colourful and fun pieces push the boundaries of what is aesthetically pleasing, and basically, cause your brain to explode - in the best way possible. We caught the gal behind the greatness for a quick chat about all things Harriet McKay Art.
Have you always been interested in Art? How did you get started?
It’s all mums fault. She’s an interior designer and a renovating fiend. We’ve lived in 11 or so different houses and she’s always fiddling with materials to create little sculptures, or painting something to add to the house. Her styling of interiors is the biggest influence on my drawings; we both aim for harmony and balance in our use of colour and form. Also her love for art has instilled an enormous appreciation for it in all of us kids. Ever since we were little, Mom has taken us to art exhibitions at local galleries. Drawing has just always been a normal way to unwind in our house, no one really watches the TV. I guess I started drawing because I wanted to be like my mum, who could create something beautiful from nothing.
Tell us about the process of putting together your debut exhibition Eye Pattern Blindness. What was the inspiration behind the theme?
Eye Pattern Blindness was really about playing with the design principles as much as possible to establish my own style. The concept of the exhibition was this creative process. Entailed within that is the continuous struggle not to overdo the work and overwhelm the onlooker. Eye Pattern Blindness, more than anything, was me trying to figure out how to maintain harmony without creating literal eye pattern blindness in the onlooker. The exhibition was around a years worth of work, and during this time I saw my style develop. In my later works I became more experimental and confident with colours as I started to get a grip on what looked good with what. It was a lot of a painful deliberation and self-critique to figure out what looked good, so it was a very nice feeling to see it all sell.
Describe your ‘style’ in 3 words.
Magnif, amaze and brill.
What mediums do you like to use?
Everything from the exhibition was done with felt-tip pen on paper or canvas. I feel confident using pens I guess because they’re what I’ve always used. I really like the texture they create on the page. But they can be pretty annoying if you screw up; you can’t just go over it with paint, you have to turn the mistake into part of the drawing or get rid of it entirely.
Tell us a bit about one of your favourite pieces from the exhibition.
Slow nights probably means the most to me because it took me the longest to make. Each time I wasn’t feeling my best I’d go back to it and the monotony of the pattern kind of calmed me down a bit, like a type of meditation or something. I got a lot of comments on Slow Nights at the exhibition because of my enormous level of patience, as the detail is so extensive. But it wasn’t really like that. It wasn’t like I set a goal and had an aim and a specific time I wanted it finished; patience didn’t come into it. Drawing all those lines on Slow Nights just really helped me so I kept doing them.
What does a day in the life of Harriet look like?
I’m starting my second year of Advanced Arts at Adelaide University, majoring in Philosophy and Anthropology. I really love the course, and having no job prospects doesn’t worry me because everything is so interesting. A day in the life of me isn’t really that fascinating. I work most days as a swimming instructor tending to three year olds that shit or vomit on me, and spend a lot of time and money at office works stocking up on drawing materials.
What’s next for you? Where would you like to see yourself and your art, in the next couple of years?
I’m currently drawing up a poster for the collective of bands Badhaus to use for the first night they are hosting at the club Rocket in a few weeks time. After that I’m doing the cover for the EP of the band Electric Exiles, which I’m stoked to get started on. I don’t really know where I would like to see myself, and my drawings in the future. Of course I would love to earn enough money to support myself by doing something that I love doing, but I don’t know if that’s all that realistic. All that I know is that right now it is really great that people are liking what I’m doing, and that I’m not going to stop drawing things.
To check out more from Harriet McKay, give her insta Harriart a suss.