Anneke Bester had a creative, happy childhood in Pretoria, South Africa. As a teenager she discovered that art was her passion and, despite her father’s warning, decided to take the difficult road of becoming an artist.
She achieved a position at art school, following this with a three-year course in design for the theatre. Then, she had to find work… at a time when all the government-backed theatres had been closed down by the new leadership. Her first creative role was developing 3D signage for slot machines for the casinos – which had been legalised.
The political situation in South Africa forced her family, like many others, to emigrate. She came to New Zealand, settling in Christchurch in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes: “Christchurch was in rebuild mode and I wanted to be a part of it … Christchurch became home and that is where my base will always be.”
Her talents were soon acquired by projects such as The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe film, the production of The Hobbit and many others. All while developing her work – long-legged acrobatic figures that stretch and twirl, capturing us with their form and grace.
She is no longer based in New Zealand, as, following a friend’s request for help on a creative endeavour, Anneke moved in Dubai, where she creates full-scale bronze sculptures of falcons. Her theatre design work and artistic talents and skills work together to produce high-quality sets and sculptures well suited to that avant-garde city.
Fortunately for us, Anneke finds time to pursue her personal work – these beautiful figurative works that seem to defy gravity. She produces the work in Dubai and has them cast in bronze in Christchurch, in a successful collaboration with fellow artist and friend Matthew Williams.
Anneke speaks the language of form. Her beautiful dancers explore the human condition – she focuses on the fine balance we need in our daily lives. What keeps us from tumbling over? What keeps us strong? It might be a place to call home, a sense of community, and a friendship that provides a secure grounding for our life. Anneke uses dance poses to express these concepts. Her figures have over-exaggerated limbs and hyper-extended poses but even when they delicately pivot on a pointed toe they portray a satisfying sense of balance. The figures look confident and secure, balanced and resolved as they challenge gravity and dance on their plinths. Form and beauty and grace shine through, whether veiled or not.
Anneke continues to exhibit annually at Art in a Garden, Flaxmere, Hawarden, and is currently working towards an exhibition at Form Gallery, Christchurch, 4th-24th July.