I have talked to a lot of Rotary Clubs in my time as an artist – always good for a lunch first and then meeting really good people who are passionate about raising money for different community organisations.
This time I took 3 things that signify my creative life – a painting done on location in the Waitaki Valley, a book about the Mataura River Art Project and a historical plastic baby’s teething toy designed by Hilary Page in the 1940s.
After 10 years CARA (Community Assessment Rehabilitation Associates) has decided to end the funding for the ‘Women’s Art Group’. This has been an amazing example of a private health provider funding an arts’ project. Many women have used this art group, the women have had 4 very successful exhibitions and I have given well received presentations at 2 TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) international conferences.
I hope to publish postcards of the artwork made as a celebration of the last 10 years.
Painting is just one way I express my creativity. My house is another. A place where I display some of my large collection of historical plastics, other collectables and art. This art group was interested in visiting me at home and hearing about my life as an artist here and in Britain.
There are many art groups who collectively buy art and share it around among the members in their group. The art they buy expresses their interests, passions and special places. A member of this group loves Griffons and their special walking place on the harbour.
(Below is part of that painting)
It’s so sad that as children many of us only got one version of the local stories that bring the land alive. I was very privileged to be support crew for friends who were walking on ‘Te Heke’ from Omarama to the mouth of the Waitaki river. The walk honoured the Waitaha prophet Te Maiharoa, who was evicted from his ancestral homelands and had his village at Omarama destroyed by the constabulary in the winter of 1879.
I painted in the stunning Waitaki valley and have since returned many times to add to the series of paintings I started then.
Sometimes I’m asked to do a painting from a particular place that is special and has great personal significance. This in turn gives me an opportunity to paint in some amazing places. This is one of them. I have painted Ruby Island many times and from many angles, even from on it , but this particular view is from private land and is not one I would ever normally have the opportunity to paint. Thanks Sara and Tom, and The Olive Grove for letting me get my trailer down there on their nice new lawn!!
It’s always important for me to go to another country and visually soak up the differences – it refreshes my visual bank in a way I can’t really explain.
As well as going for a birthday I worked on a small part of a larger photographic project that is still ongoing and a work in progress.
I was also interested in the history and the remnants of Dutch colonisation in Java & Bali.
How’s this for a family tree illustration? – in the palace at Yogyakarta!
It was an honour to be asked to open this anniversary exhibition. I was the first guest artist to be featured and I remember well, 10 years ago, dropping off my paintings near the farm gate for that very first exhibition. I had a bunch of good thoughts, excited at people and artists committed to bringing the creative spirit to the depths of the Catlins!
It was great to be able to be there again to celebrate this achievement with everybody involved in the Southern District Arts Trust.
I am very happy (and so are the neighbours) to be a guardian of this tiny library. I painted it to match the house. It has been very busy since its opening!! These Lilliput libraries are popping up all over Dunedin, painted by Dunedin artists – another great community project. You can read all about this project at: New Zealand Book Council
Helena de Kok is a Dutch photographer based in Wellington. She is currently working on a photography project supported by the Netherlands Embassy, showcasing and celebrating members of the Dutch community (first and second generation) in New Zealand.
Helena interviewed me at home in Dunedin and has included my story in this project which you can see and read more about at: Dutch New Zealand