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Front and centre: Arrowtown artist Jasmine Clark outside her home gallery

Arrowtown artist Jasmine Clark’s work, using natural and found materials, can be seen
popping up in several new Queenstown buildings. One of the next artists in residence
at Queenstown’s new cultural and arts hub, Te Atamira, she talks to CASS MARRETT about what inspires her

Arrowtown artist Jasmine Clark has shot to popularity locally in recent years for her works using natural and found materials.

Clark specialises in weaving, creating stand-out pieces incorporating driftwood, copper wire, rattan and kelp.

Her work can be seen at the new Southern Cross Central Lakes Hospital and Five Mile’s
Sudima hotel.

Sir Michael and Christine, Lady Hill have commissioned several pieces from her, after finding her via word of mouth, and have some of her pieces on display at The Hills’  clubhouse, which, Clark says, has led to other commissions.

‘‘It’s funny just how little things can turn out … it’s been incredible,’’ Clark says.

Foraging for and creating something new with recycled materials is one of her passions,
which she says is, in part, inspired by her unconventional upbringing in Karekare Beach, West Auckland.

‘‘Mum and dad were sort of early pioneer hippies,’’ she says.

‘‘When we moved out there, the Piha road was still gravel and we actually lived in a  teepee on a 10-acre block while dad was building the house.’’

Her mother would grind the wheat outside the teepee and cook flatbreads over the fire.

‘‘It was pretty basic but it was a cool life.’’

Clark recalls spending her childhood in demolition yards, collecting church windows, resulting in her parents building ‘‘this amazing house out of all this demolition’’.

‘‘Growing up, we always just made do with what we had and we always fixed things and recycled things.’’

When it comes to her art, Clark says it’s all inspired by nature and weaving techniques, and she often goes on trips to the scrapyard or collects pieces off the beach, and lets the materials drive her.

‘‘That’s always exciting because you never know what you’re going to find,’’ she says.

The artistic gene runs through her family — her grandparents on both sides, her parents and her uncle work across several mediums like rug weaving, painting and pottery.

Her grandfather, Nobby Clark, had a well-known illustration series in the New Zealand Herald, dubbed ‘Encounters with Nobby Clark’, and her uncle, Simon Clark, has paintings displayed in Queenstown’s Milford Galleries.

‘‘I just knew right from when I was a kid [that I wanted to be an artist].

‘‘It was just a normal thing to want to be,’’ she says.

After high school, Clark went straight to art school to study sculpture, but it was a night class in weaving that established the style she produces work in today.

‘‘Basketry has became a really big part of my work, which has continued.

‘‘It’s crazy to think it’s been over 20 years or something.’’

It was a new relationship that brought Clark to Arrowtown 15 years ago with her first son, Ila, now 17.

‘‘I’d never even heard of Arrowtown,’’ Clark laughs.

‘‘Julian and I had a child together, he’s now 13, it’s been a very happy ending kind of thing … I’m really part of the community now.’’

She’s recently retired from running the Creative Queenstown arts market and is currently working on the largest commission she’s ever done.

To be displayed at a new Remarkables Park hotel, it’ll be displayed in a 3.5-metre glass case between the restaurant and reception.

‘‘It’s quite daunting,’’ Clark laughs.

With a year to complete that piece, Clark, who has a home gallery in Arrowtown, will be
working on it as an artist in residence at Te Atamira, the resort’s new arts and cultural hub, from next month.

She’ll also be running three weaving workshops with different materials while there, while more of her work can be seen on Instagram — @jasmineclarkartist

cass.marrett@scene.co.nz