Featured Artists

Interviews Archive Page

135  Christina Massey

134  Mary Grisey

133  Trina Perry Carlson

132  Anne Kelly

131  Louise Lemieux Bérubé

130  Dorothy McGuinness

129  Penny Mateer

128  Christine Mauersberger

127  Jim Arendt

126  Merce Mitchell

125  Louise Keen

124  Rosemary Claus-Gray

123  Mary Giehl

122  Emily Hermant

121  Robin Wiltse

120  Barbara Klunder

119  Megan Skyvington

118  Rachel Brumer

117  Heike Blohm

116  Shanell Papp

115  Carmella Karijo Rother

114  C. Pazia Mannella

113  Karen Goetzinger

112  Andrew MacDonald

111  Jeanne Williamson

110  Catherine Heard

109  Rosemary Hoffenberg

108  Cathy Breslaw

107  Leslie Pontz

106  Cas Holmes

105  Geri deGruy

104  Suzanne Morlock

103  Barbara De Pirro

102  Kathryn Clark

101  Noelle Hamlyn

100  Judith Mullen

99  Barbara J. Schneider

98  Merill Comeau

97  Beverly Ayling-Smith

96  Barbara Hilts

95  Mackenzie Kelly-Frère

94  Anna Keck

93  Pilar Sans Coover

92  Dolores_Slowinski

91  Leslie Pearson

90  Temma Gentles

89  Tilleke Schwarz

88  Anna Torma

87  Kim Stanford

86  Ingrid Lincoln

85  Anna Hergert

84  Joy Walker

83  Maximo Laura

82  Marie Bergstedt

81  Alice Vander Vennen

80  Xia Gao

79  Leisa Rich

78  Megan Q. Bostic

77  Sayward Johnson

76  Heather Komus

75  Sheila Thompson

74  Kerstin Benier

73  Molly Grundy

72  Nathan Johns

71  Lorena Santin-Andrade

70  Lisa DiQuinzio

69  Nancy Yule

68  Jenine Shereos

67  Bovey Lee

66  Nell Burns

65  Lancelot Coar

64  Elisabetta Balasso

63  Matthew Cox

62  Yulia Brodskaya

61  Lotta Helleberg

60  Kit Vincent

59  Barbara Heller

58  Catherine Dormor

57  Joyce Seagram

56  Yael Brotman

55  David Hanauer

54  Dwayne_Wanner

53  Pat Hertzberg

52  Chris Motley

51  Mary Catherine Newcomb

50  Cybèle Young

49  Vessna Perunovich

48  Fukuko Matsubara

47  Jodi Colella

46  Anastasia Azure

45  Marjolein Dallinga

44  Libby Hague

43  Rita Dijkstra

42  Leanne Shea Rhem

41 Lizz Aston

40  Sandra Gregson

39  Kai Chan

38  Edith Meusnier

37  Lindy Pole

36  Melanie Chikofsky

35  Laurie Lemelin

34  Emily Jan

33  Elisabeth Picard

32  Liz Pead

31  Milena Radeva

30  Rochelle Rubinstein

29  Martha Cole

28  Susan Strachan Johnson

27  Karen Maru

26  Bettina Matzkuhn

25  Valerie Knapp

24  Xiaoging Yan

23  Hilary Rice

22  Birgitta Hallberg

21  Judy Martin

20  Gordana Brelih

19  Mary Karavos

18  Rasma Noreikyte

17  Judith Tinkl

16  Joanne Young

15  Allyn Cantor

14  Pat Burns-Wendland

13  Barbara Wisnoski

12  Robert Davidovitz

11  Amy Bagshaw

10  Jesse Harrod

9  Emma Nishimura

8  June J. Jacobs

7  Dagmar Kovar

6  Ixchel Suarez

5  Cynthia Jackson

4  Lorraine Roy

3  Christine Mockett

2  Amanda McCavour

1  Ulrikka Mokdad


Untitled, plastic, wool, thread, canvas, 2013, 40.6 cm x 50.8 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.



Apocalypse Tapestries, found objects, plastic, plaster, thread, wool, canvas, 2013, dimensions variable, machine stitched, weaving and embroidery, Photo: Louise Keen.


Artist: Louise Keen, Auckland, New Zealand

Interview 125: Louise will be exhibiting in the 2014 World of Threads Festival exhibition strung out and undone at The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

Subscribe to Artist Interviews here...

Interviews published and curated by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.




Louise Keen is an emerging visual artist from Auckland, New Zealand. Graduating from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, 2013. Louise was born in Auckland. She grew up there with her three sisters and left for Wellington at the age of 17 where she became part of the early Punk scene. Louise is concerned with the impact consumption is having on the environment at a global level and what she can do to pass on a planet that is sustainable. It is also Louise's early career in fashion production and design that lends a particular point of view that literally allows her to draw the threads of her life and ideas together.

In her studio practice Louise started out investigating and exploring the idea of the discarded in the local environment and specific sites. Driven by her concerns about how contemporary art can address the idea of consumption as well as being sustainable. It is a multi dimensional issue and one that Louise incorporates into her practice through the process of walking and collecting the detritus she finds. Louise enjoys experimentation with low-tech, low cost media with the use of traditional craft techniques to repurpose ubiquitous objects in order to push the boundaries of contemporary art. Louise's website


Artist: Louise Keen, 2014, Photo: Jared Murdoch.


You comment that art comes from the heart, from the head, from the surroundings and from deep places that have not been explored before. Could you explain what you mean?

I think art for me, comes from everyday experiences plus the way this is interpreted through how I feel about those experiences. I feel these experiences through a combination of feelings and thoughts. It is through the making of the work that I explore new ways of seeing and being and in turn explore a depth of meaning.


Untitled, plastic, wool, thread, canvas, 2013, 40.6 cm x 50.8 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


Is this where your art comes from?

Yes definitely. I think creative inspiration comes from a combination of living life and the making of the work.


Untitled, plastic, wool, thread, canvas, 2013, 40.6 cm x 50.8 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


Tell us about your work:

In my work I have developed a piecing together and synthesis of form that references the historical art movement known as Synthetic Cubism. It was this movement that sparked the modernist's optimistic use of 'real world objects' in painting and collage. In the canvas works I use a lot of plastics and play with compositions of form and colour. Including the assembling and insertion of found objects onto the canvas and blurring the line between painting and sculpture. As well as using the transparent and malleable properties of the plastic, I find that the colours are a significant motif of contemporary culture. The non-traditional use of the machine stitching onto the canvas is expressive like a child's drawing while the thread colour is well considered within the compositions. The interchanging of these stitched lines with the colours of plastics creates texture and patterns that advance and recede across the picture plan.


Apocalypse Tapestries, found objects, plastic, plaster, thread, wool, canvas, 2013, dimensions variable, machine stitched, weaving and embroidery, Photo: Louise Keen.


What 'category' would you place your art into and why?

I seem to have certain themes play out in my work. I do tend to re interpret the landscape a lot and I have developed a fascination for ubiquitous objects and placing these in still life scenarios. I have just finished a body of work titled Still Life and the subject matter of this series of works is discarded plastic bottles.

A still life is a painting featuring an arrangement of inanimate, everyday objects, whether natural objects or manufactured items. The Tate Museum Glossary puts it quite concisely, defining the subject of a still life as "anything that does not move or is dead".


Untitled, plastic, wool, thread, canvas, 2013, 40.6 cm x 50.8 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


How and why did you move from the field of fashion into the visual arts?

I have always been a visual artist so being in the fashion industry was one way to express that creative energy. The move to gain more knowledge and self-expression within a new arts community had been a decision I had pondered for a few years. So taking the steps to gain a BFA at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design was a new and exciting venture and one that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. It opened me up to new ways of seeing and I gained a fantastic creative and supportive community.


Untitled, found plastic, thread, canvas,2 013, 38 cm x 28 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


You have a concern about the environment. Do you try to reflect this concern in your art?

My concerns about the environment do play out in my work.  The recycling and use of ready made and found objects in my practice highlight the contemporary concerns about the environment and the impact that consumption has on the planet.


Landscape with Rubber Glove, found plastic, rubber glove, thread, canvas, 2013, 60 cm x 82 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


How are you attempting to convey a particular message?

I think it is important to recognise that we now live in human systems with natural ecosystems embedded within them and it will be objects like plastic bottles, buried within layers of the earth that will be part of the traces of human life on the planet. In my work I use these found objects to try to shift the points of perspective and try to converse with this new epoch and in doing so I hope to create a dialogue between art and the relationship of the contemporary life of consumption within globalisation and its cause and effect.


Untitled, found plastic, thread, canvas, 2013, 38 cm x 28 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


You mention that you walk and collect daily. Do you have favourite places to walk and collect?

I walk regularly into the city and always find interesting objects some I collect but some I just photograph and use for other projects. My methodology is to collect, appropriate and narrate and as my work incorporates a mixture of natural/organic and artificial/urban objects, I use these in image based experimental collage as sculptural works.


Urban landscape, salvaged plastic, thread, canvas, 2013, 250 cm x 126 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


Are there some places that are more yielding to your collection needs?

At present it is winter and rather windy so the walk to my studio has developed in an unusual source of broken umbrellas that I am intending to use as inspiration for a new body of work.


Ozone, found plastic, wool, thread, canvas, 2013, 82 cm x 60 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


Do the items you collect generally spawn an idea for a project or does the idea come first?

Yes it works both ways. The objects I salvage become inspiration for new ideas as well as collecting for existing projects. I try to keep my mind open when collecting so I can continue to explore without boundaries.


Still Life 1, plastic, thread, paper, canvas, 2014, 40.6 cm x 50.8 cm, machine stitched. Photo: Louise Keen.


How did you come up with the subject for your Apocalypse Tapestries?

The work borrows its title from the Apocalypse Tapestries at the Chateau of Angers, France. These were conceived and executed by Nicolas Bataille and Robert Poincon during the Renaissance and are pivotal when discussing the distinctions between art and craft. This reference is prevalent in the methodologies and stylistic treatment of the work whilst also acting as a significant sociological prompt. By using plastic bags as reference to the Apocalypse and as a state of encounter, I made the work as a comment on the detached consumer world of consumption. Plastic bags are a phenomenon of a modern consumer lifestyle and take 1,000 years to decompose and there is an estimated one trillion plastic bags going into the waste stream every year. When a plastic bag is thrown out it doesn't disappear.


Urban landscape-connections and alterations, materials various, 2013, dimensions variable, exhibition installation view, Photo: Louise Keen.


Did you come up with the idea first and then start collecting the materials, or vice versa.

The idea came after my research into the overwhelming statistics of plastics in the environment and I did not have to look far for evidence. The collection of plastic bags for this work came from my own consumption as well as from my daily walks.


Tracings 1, ink, acrylic, card, 2014, 42 cm x 59.4 cm, drawing, Photo: Louise Keen.


What fibre techniques do you use in your works? Which are your favourites and which do you use most often?

The fibre techniques I use most often are machine stitching and hand embroidery. I also use weaving with wool and like the combination of natural / artificial.


Tracings 5, ink, acrylic, card, 2014, 21 cm x 29.7 cm, drawing, Photo: Louise Keen.


What specific historic artists have influenced your work? 

I continue to be inspired by Picasso's work. The way the work masterly creates so many levels of seeing on one picture plane. I try and play with these same ideas within my own work however unsuccessful I maybe.


Tracings 8, ink, acrylic, card, 2014, 21 cm x 29.7 cm, drawing, Photo: Louise Keen.


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work?  

I am also inspired and influenced by the work of American artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008). Rauschenberg questioned the distinctions between art and everyday objects. He termed the word "combines" (meant to express both the finding and forming of combinations in three-dimensional collage). This work of art combined everyday objects with abstract painting in a way that referenced both art history and mass pop culture. Earning the label Neo Dadaist. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both. He saw the beauty in the everyday and collected rubbish to create art. In doing so he redefined art as the common things that surround us everyday and paved the way for movements like Pop and Conceptual Art.

I have gained inspiration from this artist as a way of navigating my way around the use of found objects and sculpture. The way he explored both painting and sculpture in his 'combines series' has helped me investigate new meanings and combinations within my own work. He explored city life and culture within his works by using what he found on the street. Simplicity and complexity, interwoven with symbols of the everyday that are literally found discarded everyday. In turn, I feel he left a legacy of historical evidence of humanities presence in his artworks, as well as of cultural signifiers.


Tracings 6, ink, acrylic, card, 2014, 21 cm x 29.7 cm, drawing, Photo: Louise Keen.


You say that you would love others to be inspired by your art. In what way do you see this being a possibility?

I hope the work raises the possibility of sustainability with a continued exploration into what is discarded on a daily basis.


Tracings 3, ink, acrylic, card, 2014, 21 cm x 29.7 cm, drawing, Photo: Louise Keen.


How does being an 'urban dweller' inform your art practice?

The dynamic of the urban landscape provides a basis for a dialogue between the contemporary life of consumption within globalisation. As an artist I endeavour to re-create a relationship with my environment by using what is normally discarded everyday and use these as a means of connection.  As an urban dweller I walk because I don't drive and as I walk I see stuff, lots of stuff, namely people, streets, parks and discarded rubbish. Some of it's interesting, some of it not, but I notice because it's my everyday.

I investigate the way the urban landscape can be interpreted as a platform from which I both critique and partake in commenting on the detached consumer world of consumption. The work references the distant and impersonal connection with the production of the consumer product. By using my sewing machine to create an intimate connection, and hand-stitches for emphasis, I try to turn consumption into a psychological state of embrace. This helps to navigate my own feelings, and ease my sense of loss and disconnectedness.


Untitled, found plastic, ceramic, wool, thread, glue, 2013, 35 cm x 45 cm x 20 cm, wrapping, glueing and darning. Photo: Louise Keen.


Tell us about your internship at the Ivan Anthony Gallery in Auckland and what you learnt from the experience?

I had not worked in an Art Gallery before but having a reasonable knowledge about the arts and the artists who were represented by the gallery was very beneficial. Part of the job entailed archiving previous exhibitions on the Gallery website. I did this by uploading images, dates and titles. Another enjoyable part of the day was talking with the visitors to the gallery about the work on show.

The general function of the gallery is to represent the artist and sell the work on behalf of the artist. Ivan Anthony has built up relationships with the collectors and museums whose interests match the work of the artists that the gallery represents. The gallery owner understands the business side of the art world. Keeping up with trends in the market and knowledge about the style of work that people interested in art want to buy, as well as evaluating the art and interacting with the artists. Support and friendships are built on honesty and trust.


Untitled, found plastic, wool, thread, glue, 2013, 60 cm x 25 cm x 6 cm, wrapping, glueing and darning. Photo: Louise Keen.


How did the internship change your approach to life and art?

Getting to know the artists and talking to them about their work was invaluable and very inspiring. I learnt what it was like for these artists and how to thrive as an artist outside the walls of being an art student. The relationship between art gallery owner and the artist is amazing, full of support and friendship. Ivan Anthony has been a Gallery owner for 15 years. The knowledge that Ivan has about the art scene and buying and selling artworks is huge.


Untitled, salvaged plastic, ceramic, wool, thread, glue, 2013, 65 cm x 25 cm, wrapping, glueing and darning. Photo: Louise Keen.


Tell us about your studio and how you work:

In my studio I mainly work on my drawing practice. I share my space with several other artists but normally there are no interruptions and it has become a quiet meditative place for me to focus. My drawings consist of mark making and tracings of found objects with the addition of embroidery and hand stitching's with wool.   


Studio photo, 2014, Photo: Jared Murdoch.

New works on paper, card, ink, wool, 2014, dimensions variable, drawing, darning, Photo: Louise Keen.


Is there a particular art related book that you refer to on a regular basis or from which you draw inspiration

There are many books but if I have to pick just one it would be The View from the Studio Door by Ted Orland. I read and re-read this book many times especially throughout my four years of BFA study. It gave me, and still does, great inspiration to keep my work authentic and to persevere with my creative life when times get tough.


Louise in studio, 2014. Photo: Jared Murdoch.

Drawing detail, photo, 2014. Photo: Jared Murdoch.


What interests you about the World of Threads festival?

I think that the World of Threads Festival is a fantastic showcase for contemporary art and innovative ideas from artists around the world. For me it is a privilege to be part of the festival this year.


Your work has been accepted into Festival 2014. What was your motivation for submitting to the World of Threads Festival?

My motivation for submitting work to the festival this year was about being part of a community of artists that work within the parameters of fibre based art.


Bottle Sculptures, plastics, ceramics, wool, thread, glue, 2013, dimensions variable, exhibition installation view. Photo: Louise Keen.


Do you have any upcoming shows?

I have my first solo show coming up in October 2014 at the Lake House Arts Centre in Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand. It will coincide with Artweek Auckland, which is 'aimed to grow Auckland's visual arts audience through discovery and discussion'.


I will be exhibiting in the 2014 World of Threads Festival exhibition strung out and undone at The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.


Subscribe To Artist Interviews here...

Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.


If you'd like to make a donation to help support our
"Weekly Fibre Artist Interviews" series, you can do so here.