Member Spotlight: Jeanette Verster
February 17, 2021
This month’s member spotlight is Aotearoa New Zealand-based artist Jeanette Verster. Jeanette takes us through her creative process, materials, and how her ideas develop over time.
Finding myself in an out-of-the-way corner of New Zealand due to a move for my husband’s job in 2018 I was at a junction career-wise and had the luxury of time on my hands. It was the perfect opportunity to make an effort to silence my inner-critic and to produce some artwork. My career up to then had encompassed art in many forms. At various times I was a performing arts teacher, a music teacher, set designer, costume designer, craft workshop leader and most importantly, mother. My connections to other arts disciplines inform my current work. Although my work now is on a much reduced scale, I am still driven by light, colour and texture. Geometric pattern and lines are recurring motifs and have its roots in my love for architecture. And Lego blocks. My small workroom, about 160 square foot is my happy place.
Materially my current practice is varied, ranging from painting (watercolours and acrylic) and printing to felt-making with other techniques, mostly paper and textile related, in between. It may be a sign of a short attention span or perhaps, a sign of creative thinking. I experiment endlessly by combining materials and techniques in, hopefully, innovative ways. It is always a surprise when some of my ideas turn out as anticipated or, on the rare occasion, that I actually like the end-product.
Typically, a new work begins with only a germ of an idea. It develops as I go. Being largely self-taught and continuously exploring possibilities, I seldom know what I am doing. Inevitably I run into problems. If they can be solved the project may be finished but more often than not, there will be a deadline looming. The relentlessness of a ticking clock can require a change of plan with the outcome being completely different from what was initially envisaged. Some wise person once said, “What is the good of having a mind if you can’t change it?” I concur. Some unfinished (Plan A) projects are shelved to be finished later or sometimes, becomes a Plan B project. Occasionally some of the shelved work is unsalvageable, unrecyclable or downright hilarious (what was I thinking!!?) and are consigned to the rubbish bin. Good reason to start again. Lessons learnt.
One of the unexpected outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic is the proliferation of fantastic online exhibitions and workshops. It has been instrumental in my acceptance of living in a small town and not feeling isolated from the rest of the art world. The creativity of artists around the world is astounding and sometimes rather overwhelming (I’ll-just-pack-up-and-go-and-eat-some-worms days) or, on good days, inspiring. I aim to participate in an online workshop or two this year, but oh, which ones to choose? I am ever so grateful to family and friends for their support even if I have to answer questions like “What is that supposed to be?” or “What are you making?” more frequently than I’d want to. My work is shown at galleries across the region and the interest and awards that it has garnered is encouraging and humbling.