My ART | Artist: Daegan Wells

Artist: Daegan Wells

Artist: Daegan Wells

What do you do?

I make art, mostly out of things that are around me. I also help out on my partner’s family farm in coastal Southland near Colac Bay. The farm is wildly beautiful, and on clear days I can see Rakiura (Stewart Island) across the bay.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

I’m a terribly impractical person, and have been pretty rubbish at most other jobs that aren’t art-related. But if I had to choose, I met a woman recently who had undertaken an apprenticeship in the early 1950s at a local clothing factory that is now long gone. She told me her job was to cut the patterns out. I remember thinking that I would enjoy that job too, a pattern cutter.

What images are pinned to your wall?

I have a lot, mostly research images and photographs I’ve taken. I have one favourite picture of Frances Hodgkins pinned above my loom. The famous one of her standing in her studio holding a bunch of brushes – I love it. It has been pinned to the wall of every studio I’ve worked in for the past 10 years or so.

What are you working on?

I’m currently working on a number of projects that all include wool and traditional processing techniques that I’ve learnt since moving to rural Southland. Wool and wool-craft remain an important aspect of rural culture, and I’ve been lucky enough to be taught some of these processes. I’ve become increasingly interested in the politics of wool and to learn more about its role shaping present-day Aotearoa. I’m making new work for Caves Gallery in Melbourne and for a group show that opens at the Physics Room in Ōtautahi, Christchurch in November curated by Abby Cunnane.

What are you listening to?

Recently I developed tinnitus in my left ear as a symptom of an ongoing health condition. At first, it was extremely difficult to accept and deal with, but one of the ways that I’ve learnt to become more accepting is to surround myself with sounds. Now either RNZ  or music is always on in the background. I’ve also become more open to the kinds of music I listen to, changing the way that I think about music, treating it as more of an education and less as a way to distract myself from the ringing in my ear.

What are you reading

I love stories and storytelling. Pretty much every project that I’ve ever developed has started with a story, someone tells me something that starts me off on a new research path. But I’m a terrible reader, I have pretty poor concentration and get very little enjoyment out of sitting and reading a book.

Who is your ideal studio buddy?

Gus, our very precious and very loved dog. He spends a lot of time lazing around the studio in a big sack of unprocessed wool that he curls up in.

September 2021

Image: Daegan photographed with Pam lamb and goat pets. Photo by Scott Mathieson