I’d never heard of Yvonne Rust before reading this, so it’s just as well Theresa Sjoquist has written a biography of this remarkable potter, painter and art teacher (1922-2002), so we can all read about this determined, talented, inspiring, eccentric and indomitable woman. Rust has been hugely influential on a generation of artists and craftspeople in New Zealand, as demonstrated by the many memories and tributes shared in this volume.
The biography succeeds at every level. It’s written in a lively, engaging manner that amply illustrates Rust’s larger-than-life personality. “Yvonne Rust was a galleon in full sail” says one of the many interviewees. That short description sums it up well.
The author has clearly spent a huge amount of time in research, from Rust’s childhood in remote Te Hapua in the far north, right through her artistic and teaching career, to her later years when she was formally recognised for her work with a QSM, and her final years on the West Coast.
The book is stitched together into a rich tapestry of story, diary and letter extracts, quotes and anecdotes. It’s told with affection, and on occasion humour: I laughed out loud at some of the episodes of Rust’s atrocious driving, which got her into trouble on more than one occasion.
As befits a book about an artist, it’s attractively designed and large enough to accommodate the many photos and illustrations, most of Rust’s own work, and the people in her life.
A really inspiring and satisfying read.