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Creative guide . . . Artist Michele Beaufoy taught art at the Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Timaru campus for 13 years. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

‘‘Sometimes when you’re least sure of what you’re doing, it’s when the best things happen.’’

Before taking early retirement at the end of last year, Oamaru artist Michele Beaufoy taught the tricks of the trade to hopeful art students at the Ara Institute of Canterbury for 13 years. Before that she spent almost 20 years living in the United Kingdom, picking up different jobs.

Beaufoy moved to the United Kingdom when she was 27. What started as a ‘‘late OE’’, ended up lasting for 18 years.

‘‘I loved it because I felt very at home in Britain — that’s where my heritage is,’’ she said.

In 2003 she returned to New Zealand, spending a few months in Oamaru and participating in an Oamaru stone symposium, before bouncing around the country trying to find somewhere to settle.

‘‘When you’re away from a place that you grew up in and it’s changed so measurably, I didn’t feel very comfortable anywhere anymore.’’

Beaufoy ended up putting down roots in Oamaru in 2004, impressed by its art community.

Originally from the Kapiti Coast, she completed a fine arts diploma with honours in painting at the University of Canterbury.

‘‘Even then, in my honours year, I started doing more sculptural work, even though I was supposed to be doing painting.’’

She did an online secondary school teaching course, which she used at a tertiary level at the Ara Institute of Canterbury, at its Timaru campus.

Over the years, she taught painting, drawing, 3D and began teaching a ‘‘multiple approach to creativity’’.

‘‘Really it’s about teaching the meaning of creativity and how you engender that, rather than teaching people to paint paintings.

‘‘It’s about working with materials, processes and ideas, and then releasing that and allowing those things to come through you in a much more natural way.’’

Beaufoy was a keen stone carver, but as teaching took more of her time, she started teaching herself to use clay.

She loved drawing and was interested in what pattern did to a know surface.

‘‘It’s a bit like tattoo. If you stick something on your arm suddenly it ceases to become an arm as you know it. It starts to tell a story about the owner.’’

As featured in the Forrester Gallery’s exhibition Fired Up, 50 years of Pottery on Tyne last year, Beaufoy did a series of torsos, combining the female form and pattern.

‘‘When you lay abstract or geometrical form over organic form it brings about an interesting visual tension.’’

Now retired, Beaufoy has more time to focus on art.

‘‘I think just having the time to do one’s creative pursuits is incredibly important in life.

‘‘With Covid, it kind of makes you think about how long you’ve got.’’

At present, Beaufoy’s work is on display at Crafted in Oamaru’s Harbour St.