Anna McLeod took 16 years to open her art studio, and it was burnout that eventually led her to take the leap into creativity.
"I kept saying, 'oh I'm going to start ceramics this summer', 'oh I think I'm going to get a kiln'. But I was so burnt out, I couldn't even keep on top of what I needed to keep on top of. I needed a total break where there was nothing for me to do and when there's nothing to do, creativity comes in."
Anna was working as a teacher, juggling family life and financial commitments.
"I still had kids at home, and with that there's that financial obligation and a big family home that's expensive to run. I had planned on leaving in three years time but I just couldn't keep going."
By the time she did finish up her job, it took about nine months of being in bed or on the couch most of the day before she found the inspiration for her ceramic art.
She moved to Opoutere, where she's opened her pottery studio in a cul-de-sac called Ngahere Place, a street that's named after the bird-filled forest that surrounds her.
"I could finally say this is me now. It was the timing in life. To wake up in the morning and not have any obligations to anyone - that is such a gift, I wish that for anyone, to be able to make it happen."
Anna is an introvert Cancerian and an only child and spent a lot of time on her own in her thoughts, writing, reading, comtemplating and imagining and says she loves being in "that world".
"I never had the time to be in my creative world, up at six, driving for an hour, teaching, meetings, dinner, reports. It's a very rewarding job, but just the workload, I couldn't handle it any more and there's a lot of people like that."
She says to give yourself time to take a break is okay.
"What's going to happen? The world's not going to stop."
"I don't go to cafes and go out for lunches and dinners or buy clothes much any more, but that's okay, I've got this."
Anna points to the surroundings of her little studio, set up to showcase for the upcoming Easter Arts Trail with the Whangamata Arts Collective.
The trail showcases artists via hubs where groups of artists showcase work together. This year will feature Opoutere and Whiritoa south of Whangamata, and the Whangamata Information Centre where art trailers can pick up their guide map.
For Anna, it's her second year of not teaching and working on her ceramics.
She plans to return to part-time teaching only this time so that her creative work can continue.
"It's amazing and I applaud people that can work and have a family and work and creative practice of some kind, but for me I need that time and space."
Anna's work takes its cue from the Opoutere surroundings with the colours of forest and sea and items such as leaves used on clay pieces.
She had done a series of kina, and discs that include imprints of items she's collected, and is now moving into nudes which will be able to be used as vases.
She's governed by the rhythm of the clay, because it takes time for it to harden ready for the kiln.
The quiet beauty of Opoutere, at the end of a one-way road that leads to the Pacific Ocean, is one of the bonuses for art enthusiasts who make the trek to view Anna's art.
She is joined by another local artist, Andy Webster, who spins her own wool and creates handcrafted beanies, socks and other items.
The Whangamata Art Collective Easter Arts Trail features 40 artists and a range of art styles and media, including ceramic, sculpture, fibre art, weaving, quilling, carving, printmaking, mixed media, fiction-based oil paintings, clay mosaic, garden art, painting. There are seven hubs, with group exhibitions by creative local artists.
Among those exhibiting are youngsters Jasper Pickett, a highly awarded photographer who is the son of sculptor Ted Pickett, and Matt Howse, whose dad Tony owns and exhibits at his Kauri Cliff Gallery in Aileen Place.
- Map guides are available from the Information Centre and on www.artscollective.co.nz, use your mobile phone to guide you around the trail.