Melina Van Wyk
Wendelton Guinea Pig Village has brightened the lives of thousands. It has also led to scores of great encounters. It’s how I met Melina Van Wyk.
Melina is a self-confessed introvert and avoids idyll chatter but was immediately drawn to the gardens ‘a love for nature runs in my family and to quote Lorraine Anderson: “Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.”. Therese suggested to her that art, based on the Wendelton Guinea Pigs may be a hit, and in short order Melina returned with exquisite guinea pig themed work.
Using neither charcoal, pastels, pencil, water colours or oils, Melina specialises in whimsical animal images. She has no need for an easel, because Melina is a digital artist. An iPad Pro, and an Apple Pencil are her tools of trade. This technology makes it possible for her to get straight to work, without having to assemble paraphernalia. Her life is full enough, without having to keep track of artist’s supplies.
Melina, was raised in South Africa, completed a diploma in Performing Arts and worked on film sets and as production manager before moving with her family to Auckland, New Zealand in 2002.
Organisational ability is Melina’s strong suit, but this was soon to be tested. Melina had not only a challenging job as a Senior Executive Assistant, but also had a particularly demanding role as a mother of two (her son was diagnosed as having Asperger’s / ADHD at the age of 5).
Struggling under the burden of postnatal depression, it took her a number of years to recognise that she needed to set aside time for herself, or as she says “to put my own oxygen mask on first before I try and save the rest of the family”.
Melina and her husband both work remotely from home for companies based in Auckland and Wellington. Thanks to technology, Melina is able to work from anywhere there is a good internet connection. That made it possible for the family to move from Auckland to Nelson in 2017. She has been the Executive Assistant for the same person for over a decade, moving with him through every twist and turn of his career pathway. At the moment, they work for the Ministry of Health.
Work and family afford her very little ‘me’ time, but technology has enabled her to quickly get creative in what spare moments she has.
Raising a child on the autism spectrum is hugely stressful, but grateful for the support she has received, Melina felt compelled to help others in the same circumstances. Through social media she has been able to make contact with other parents and care-givers of children on the spectrum. A project close to her heart is her charity work with families who care for children on the spectrum and with disabilities whereby she creates personalised drawings for families at no charge. She also has a dedicated series of illustrations where a percentage of the profits from sales are donated to Autism NZ and the Kea Conservation Trust.
Wendelton is a hit, and Melina’s drawings capture its spirit. Her greeting cards and fridge magnets are now available to take home, or to share with others the joy of Wendelton.