Yvonne Rust: Maverick Spirit by Theresa Sjoquist (David Ling, 2011)

Beginning in August 2007, I started research for the biographyYvonne Rust – Maverick Spirit. The completed work included the location and interview of 400 people, approximately 80 of them in depth.

Yvonne’s great grandfather, John Stewart Rust, arrived in Whangarei when thirty-six houses constituted the township.  His son, Gordon, Yvonne’s father, was a native schools headmaster. In 1928, when Yvonne was six, he was posted to Te Hapua, the most northern community in New Zealand. The depression was just beginning to bite and the bottom was falling out of the gum market.

Te Hapua was a Maori community and Yvonne, the only white child. TB was rife, unemployment high, facilities virtually non-existent.  The schoolhouse was the only accommodation for visitors to the area and Yvonne grew up with a constant stream of guests at home; the Land Court judge, the Captain of the scow, scientists studying the flight of the godwit, newspaper men, the school inspector, etc.

Like her mother, Annie, she attended Canterbury College of Art in Christchurch and studied metalwork. Graduating with a Diploma in Fine Art in 1946, she went on to teach art in schools at a time in New Zealand when art was just being introduced into the general curriculum as part of a new approach to education.

At the forefront of the pottery movement, she was a significant influence on the development of art in NZ, consistently battled for the development of NZ’s raw materials by artists, and inspired many of NZ’s great ‘creatives’. In later life she was a prolific painter, producing around 1400 paintings. Perhaps the thing she is best known for is what people call her inspirational motivation.

Please contact Theresa at imagineer@ihug.co.nz or 021-577-503

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