Henk and Marion Van Oeveren emigrated to New Zealand from The Netherlands in 1992 and have lived in Nelson ever since. They bought the charming but somewhat run down property in Garden Valley in 1995 and after years of building and planting (and waiting for the trees to grow) their vision of an abundant native and edible garden is becoming a reality. Birds are enjoying the garden too and there are high numbers of pukeko, several weka families as well as tuis, bellbirds and kereru.
Alpacas and workshops
In 2011 the first 20 alpacas arrived from different farms in the South Island and two cria were born in 2013. Marion spins the alpaca fibre but mainly makes colourful felted items varying from bags to jewellery. Both Henk and Marion have off-farm jobs with Henk running an engineering business and Marion is a registered dietitian and has a small private practice – click here for more information about Nutrition Matters. The property is a beautiful and inspirational setting for craft and healthy living courses. The purpose build studio is spacious, light and full of treasures.
You can visit us by appointment and we offer half-day craft sessions in our studio. Under our guidance, in half a day, you can create a unique item in felt or mosaic.
About Marion van Oeveren
When I was a student in the 1980s I became interested in spinning and eco-dyeing. This developed into a small business that helped fund our studies. My partner made spinning wheels and I thought people how to spin. In autumn we had eco-dye sessions on big open fires in our garden.
Organic gardening, healthy eating and cooking and my interest in natural textile arts and crafts have been part of my life as long as I can remember. In 1992 we immigrated to New Zealand and since 1995 we have been living on our lifestyle block near Nelson. Textile arts went on the backburner for a while when we had a family and I worked as a dietitian. In 2013 I reduced my hours of work and could dedicate much more time to felting and eco-dyeing and we also build a craft studio and I now have a wonderful work space.
I experiment a lot myself and also learn from online videos thanks to the many wonderful artists who put tutorials online. I am a member of Creative Fibre NZ and attend the annual Festival and other workshops in New Zealand. I travel to the Netherlands once a year and usually do a short residential workshop with a Dutch textile artist. I have a nice library of craft books and my favourite books are by Sasha Duerr and Anja Schrik. Sasha introduced the term ‘permacouture” based on the same principles as “permaculture”. The philosophy of “slow fashion” and using whatever is available locally really resonates with me.
Making natural dyes and eco-prints is much like cooking. It is about using a variety of ingredients and combining them in different ways. The options are endless and you never finish learning. My passion is to create felted and eco-dyed clothing, scarfs, bags and cushion covers that are distinctive but are also practical and comfortable to wear and use in daily life. I mainly use local plant materials, local fibres and recycled fabrics in my work.
Three years ago I was a member of an artist’s collective and sold my work in a local shop. I did not get a lot of satisfaction from this and it was time consuming. I now fully focus on providing workshops and sharing my passion and skills with other people. The workshops are in a pleasant environment and I aim for a good balance between quality (durable felt and colourfast dyeing) and the artistic process. In my workshops I encourage people to start with an idea and I will offer the right materials and techniques to create their piece.
The workshops can be for an individual or for a large group. Last summer I had a woman here from Hungary and the two of us worked together on items of her choice for a whole week. She made several beautiful eco-dyed scarfs as well as a felted hat and blanket. I can host large groups of up to 16 people and we have had garden tours combined with felting “taster” sessions. The workshops are very flexible in terms of days/times and content. You do not need to decide what you would like to make in advance. I have a lot of bags, scarfs and other items that can inspire you in my studio.
I should not forget to mention my interest in mosaics. I have been making mosaics for 15 years mainly using recycled and broken items. I teach mosaics from our studio as well.