With multiple awards under her belt, Andrea du Chatenier, a sculptor turned ceramicist, is excited about the future of art and design and the prospect of what Te Pūkenga – the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, might bring to the creative sector and Whanganui.
Born and bred in Kirikiroa (Hamilton), Andrea studied and obtained a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from RMIT University of Melbourne. While working in Auckland, she won a residency, which paid her to live and work in Whanganui.
"I won the Tylee Cottage Artist Residency at the Sarjeant Gallery and taught part-time while here. I loved the city, so I stayed."
"Whanganui is a destination, the beach, the river, and smallness. It's also creative, beautiful, and wonderful to live in." If Andrea is not in her studio or at UCOL, she's walking with her dogs at South Beach.
Most recently, Andrea won the Dame Doreen's Gift award from the Blumhardt Foundation, which celebrates artists whose achievement and commitment have garnered the respect and admiration of peers and sector leaders.
Critics have described her work as formidably accomplished. It's a description that could be applied to her personality. However, Andrea also has a glint in her eyes and an infectious, warm laugh.
"I love teaching and helping students develop their own creative practices."
"Teaching theory of art and design is probably the least favourite area of study for our learners," she laughs, "and I see it as a personal challenge to excite them about the social, political, and aesthetic ideas which underpin our creative practices. I want to give them good models to help them think critically."
Her extensive subject knowledge, love of teaching, and understanding of Aotearoa today are refreshing. Andrea acknowledges the allure of paid work for rangatahi exiting school rather than further study. However, she is unequivocal that a creative pathway supports students in finding a personal voice and provides invaluable skills for navigating our contemporary world.
"Being able to interpret and respond to the imagery fired at us with increasing momentum from our digital devices has the capacity to create positive change. It's a skill often overlooked, although it plays a powerful role in how we see and understand our communities."
"Art and design are good for the soul.", she says. "Our teaching method places the students at the centre of learning and creates an environment that encourages them to explore, experiment and take risks. There's a lot of freedom in what we do as creatives."