Jenny Fraser

Biography
Jenny Fraser’s childhood was spent on the Fraser family dairy farm at Pokuru, Te Awamutu. Her grandfather had purchased the land in 1920. Jenny’s primary schooling was at Pokuru School then at the Te Awamutu College’s Intermediate. Her secondary schooling was as a boarder at St Cuthbert’s College in Auckland for five years.

Jenny trained as a primary school teacher at the newly established Waikato University. She spent two years teaching, first at Pokuru School and then at Te Awamutu Primary. She then travelled to Europe in 1968, continuing to relief teach in London and also travel. In 1970 she visited The Findhorn Community and was introduced to the craft of weaving. She spent two years there, the first year in charge of their large formal herb garden, the second year in the Findhorn Studios weaving arran floor rugs.

Returning to New Zealand in 1972 she began to teach and weave, purchasing a Loman Loom, from the loom maker, Yan Loman in Hamilton. In 1979 she and her husband and young family moved onto their five acres with a gully and stream at Tamahere, Hamilton. A home was built and a flock of black and coloured sheep purchased. During this period Jenny attended a variety of courses on design, colour, and fibre technique. She taught ‘Fibre Craft’ night classes at the Waikato Polytech for several years. In the early 80s, Jenny established ‘Riverweaver Studio’ producing a variety of woven-fleece art pieces as well as woollen floor rugs using mill wool for the warp and mostly her carded or uncarded fleece in the weft. A carding machine was employed for the fleece as well as a large copper to dye fleece if required.

‘My work is exhibited and sold in a number of prestigious galleries throughout New Zealand and frequently purchased by overseas visitors. During my period as a weaver I have developed a style of my own and a sound practical knowledge of the technical aspects of fibre construction. I have a particular affinity for wool and a love for its intrinsic qualities, not only for practical use but as an artistic medium to express colour, texture, and form. My style has been influenced by my love of the flowing contours, so abundant and diverse in the New Zealand landscape’

In 1985 The Mohair Association contacted Jenny asking if she could make a range of kid mohair scarves for the New Zealand Field Days at Mystery Creek, Hamilton. This was the beginning of another journey Riverweaver was to flow into.

Source: Jenny Fraser, 2021

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