Malcolm Harrison was a leading New Zealand artist and maker who died in November 2007. Working principally in the fields of embroidery textiles and from the late 1970s, he was very largely responsible for positioning those fields as areas of contemporary arts practice worthy of critical attention. In 2005, and to much acclaim, Malcolm Harrison was the inaugural recipient of the Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Fellowship and in the following year he presented Minus Reason an exhibition of new work at Objectspace.
Featured in this Vault Installation is the powerful work Requiem from Minus Reason together with works from the 1980s and 1990s all of which come from Malcolm's own collection. The quilts Between Nocturnal Pools of Light and Kissing Death both date from 1990. The works in the far cabinet were mostly made in the 1980s and explore the theme of exploration in their use of charts, codes, tapa, maps and other navigation devices. The box works Forbidden Colours and Oedipus both allude to explorations and journeys of a personal nature and in particular the psychological dimension of such journeys.
Although he principally worked in the medium of textiles Malcolm Harrison was also a great collector and occasionally produced assemblages of found objects, often as a gift for friends. The near cabinet features one such assemblage of found old and new works and small artworks. By themselves, and as part of assemblages, such objects were source material and inspiration for Harrison as a maker.
Writing about Minus Reason curator, friend and writer Laurence Fearnley said "Malcolm is, I believe, a story teller and stories, for the most part, tend to be simply told rather than conveyed in a private language. When I think about Malcolm ...it seems to me that one of his most marked- and appealing-characteristics is that he frequently uses coded language and private jokes....For him, I think, the use of such language, is an act of subversion."