Rebecca Fawkner interviewed on Kete Books


Rebecca Fawkner is a teacher and has worked at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth for 20 years. She has just compiled one of the most unique art activity books for Kiwi kids – and beyond - packed with ideas inspired by acclaimed New Zealand artist Len Lye. Here she explains how, and why, she did it and the ways in which we need Len Lye to inspire a new generation of budding artists.

Writing a book about an artist whose work and interests were as eclectic as Len Lye seems incredibly ambitious so where did the idea come from?

You are right, it certainly it did feel quite ambitious. We (the education team at the Len Lye Centre) dreamt up the idea many years ago. A book that shares the richness of Len’s art with kids at home in the same way that we share his art with them on a school visit or holiday programme seemed indispensable to us. We wanted it to come from the home of his art, so it became clear what must be done and who must do it.

What was the process of bringing it all together and how did you hit upon the structure for it?

It kicked off with a list of tried and true activities that we knew kids loved and grew from there. As you mention Len’s art spreads across may areas so we tried out a few different structures. It was tricky to decide but we finally landed on covering themes in a chronological order as Len discovered them. That said there are plenty of times that we break that rule (as Len himself probably would have done).

How long did it take?

So long! This is my first experience as an author so I came out with a new appreciation of the work that goes into it. Thank goodness for the fabulous team at Massey University Press or else I’d still be there pottering around, changing my mind, and then changing it back. Was it year? It’s all a blur.

What challenged you the most – and, equally, delighted you?

Maybe easier to say what didn’t challenge me? Coming up with activity ideas is big part my job so I get lots of practice at that but writing them up so a young reader can follow the idea and instructions without me standing next to them explaining was certainly challenging. As was dealing with all the curatorial detail and making sure we got it right. I loved the research element to the project, I learnt lots more about Len which really only made me more enthusiastic about sharing his story.

Read the full questionnaire here