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Deb Donnelly

Textile Designer / Curator
Dip. Textile Design

Ishibashi Foundation/Japan Foundation Fellowship for research on Japanese Art 2019

World Shibori NZ representative

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Japan / NZ European

Wellington born, Kapiti Coast-based artist Deb has a major interest in ethnographic textiles research.

Research is presented as installation practice 

based on input from inter-generational audiences. Technology and cultures play critical roles to find

balance and imbalance of perspectives of slow cloth applications, e.g. resist shibori and kasuri weaves, located in Asian family and cultural artefacts.

Deb's arts practice began in 1970s Wellington as

an art and design student. Since 1990, after a

period of working in NZ textile print and interior

design industries, Deb taught specialist subjects in

Porirua colleges: practical art design for marketing,

printmaking, and fashion design to students.

A Japan NZ Design exchange grant to Japan in 1993 helped to open her teaching to Asian design students on her return to teaching at Wellington Polytechnic. 

Current research involves facilitating personal narrative and reflective feminist practice as curator, connector, educator and arts practitioner.


With a Eurasian family heritage with socialist democratic core values, beliefs, skills and artistic whakapapa, it was important to Deb to develop a teaching philosophy that offered multiple perspectives which engage both students and colleagues. Themes of her personal artwork are drawn from the auto-ethnographic research and design thinking that connect audiences to ‘a sense of an in between place' or an emerging state of being to view the world.


As a Kapiti Coast public arts facilitator, Deb has managed numerous community art projects throughout Porirua and Kapiti regions. This practice acts as a platform: for shared ideas created with local and international participants and supports public engagement in the arts.


In 2019 through the Ishibashi Foundation Fellowship in Japan, Deb observed many artisans and designers holding and balancing spiritual and daily needs in their practices e.g. Japanese-based indigo and natural dyeing, and kasuri weaving practices as cultural identity between two worlds. Past and present, revisiting manufacturing processes with the hand-made mode of authentic narrative.


The cultural exchange enquiry has invigorated Deb's own creative development as a practitioner; revisiting and redefining curatorship of cultural and contemporary craft practices. She seeks to share both design and arts thinking in contemporary galleries, festivals, national and international symposiums, and public arts spaces. 

Follow Deb on her travels, projects and 
works on her blog and Instagram:
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Nuno 3D sculptural felt 2014

NZ merino wool and paj silk, shibori resist dyed.


NZ Japan cultural exchange 2019 - a study of identity and place.

Shibori resist Indigo on cotton, Nuno ecoprint natural dyes on NZ merino wool, vintage Japanese katazome indigo textiles, hand-made paper,  dyed threads, hand-stitched.

sealord joint venture.JPG

Joint venture Sealords 2018

Red wool felt sushi work on painted and dyed textile background. Selected for Changing Threads Finalists exhibition Feb 2018 Refinery Gallery, Nelson.


Nuno felt scarf 2016

NZ merino wool on black silk tissue. 

Tomihisa studio, Fukuoka, Japan 2018

Deb [left] with Hiroshi Tomihisa and a sample of his family studio's Kurume kasuri.

Shibori resist dye technique with Japan Blue (aizome)

Hiromi Watanabe studio, Okayama, Japan 2019

Moments after the aidate vat and indigo blue reveal.

Kurume Japan Blue (aizome) indigo vat dye house

Tomihisa studio, Horikawa, Fukuoka, Japan 2018

Kurume indigo dye method with Hiroshi Tomihisa. Vats of fermented indigo leaves.

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