Exhibition celebrates artist's life

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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Diane Harries, curator of the Poetics exhibition, with works by Yoka van Dyk. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO
Diane Harries, curator of the Poetics exhibition, with works by Yoka van Dyk. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

The latest exhibition at the Whanganui Community Arts Centre is a tribute to Yoka van Dyk - poet, printmaker, calligrapher and bookbinder.

Poetics opened on August 12 and will run until August 27.

The large exhibition - it is made up of more than 130 items - features works by Ms van Dyk, as well as works by more than 30 artists as a tribute to her. Ms van Dyk died of cancer in April 2015, aged 59.

Ms van Dyk was born in the Netherlands. She lived in New Zealand for many years; first in Hawke's Bay then, from the late 1990s, in Whanganui.

She finished her art studies at Whanganui UCOL, did her Masters degree, and taught at Whanganui UCOL. She was later a freelance teacher, and also worked at the Whanganui Regional Museum and the Sarjeant Gallery.

Poetics was organised by close friend Julia Ellery and fellow artist Diane Harries. Friends donated artworks by Ms van Dyk for the exhibition; other artworks came from her estate; and a third group of works were made by artists - many of them Ms van Dyk's former students - in Ms van Dyk's style.

Ms Harries, who studied under some of Ms van Dyk's students, described her as a very "focused" artist.

"Yoka was an amazing craftswoman and artist. She inspired so many people, but she was a hard taskmaster, in terms of making sure people did things as well as they possibly could."

Ms Harries said the exhibition contained many of Ms Dyk's handmade books - with around 100 different bindings represented.

"She was a great experimenter, and a master of different book structures."

Mrs Ellery said the exhibition was not a mournful affair.

"It's about celebrating her life and work. Yoka was dear to many people.

"This whole exhibition is about when you teach someone, it continues on. I love the way everybody has taken what Yoka has taught them and added their own twist to it."

Ms Harries and another artist have produced the first in a series of projects called Voorschrift - Dutch for Instruction - boxed kits containing materials and Ms van Dyk's own written instructions on how to make different types of books.

"In this way we're ensuring that Yoka's teaching continues," Ms Harries said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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