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By the book...Renee Pomare (11, left) of Riversdale School, and Aria Wilson (11) of St Peter’s College, repurpose encyclopedias to make art with the help of Dunedin artist and Janet de Wagt

Pupils from throughout Eastern Southland are gaining an “encyclopedic” knowledge of art thanks to the visits of Dunedin artist Janet de Wagt.

Ms Wagt recently restarted her visits to Gore to work with the Southern Rural Education Activities Programme (Reap), where her group of pupils from local schools are creating artworks using old encyclopedias.

“I want to encourage young people to look at what they have at home,” she said.

“It’s about creatively using things.”

She encouraged people to repurpose everyday objects to make art.

This had dovetailed well with lockdown for the pupils, although the group started making their creations before it began.

She had been working with Reap for about 10 years, she said.

“I work with Reap quite a lot.

“I am very pro-Reap,” she said.

The sessions not only taught her pupils about art, it also taught them about problem-solving.

“They figure out what folds they can do to make their work stand up.”

She hoped the art sessions would encourage the pupils to take creative paths in life.

She also had several other art projects on the go.

She was artist in residence at Bathgate Park School in Dunedin.

Landscapes and murals were also her area.

She had been due to travel to the United Kingdom to restore a mural she had worked on in 1984, supporting the Afro-Caribbean community.

Eastern Southland Reap co-ordinator Dianne Smillie said the children who attended the classes got a lot out of them.

They were chosen to attend as part of Reap’s gifted and talented education programme.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to extend their skills in their passions,” Mrs Smillie said.

Along with art, there were courses in science, maths and language.

“Children may be gifted in one area and not others.”

Learning from Ms de Wagt was an “amazing”opportunity, she said.