They’ve been getting into the spirit down at the Old School about this time of year for a decade now but it’s all in the name of creativity.
For ‘tis the season again when Raglan’s erstwhile schoolroom gets transformed into a festive showroom of arts and crafts embodying the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ – an annual exhibition of locally made items, every one of them plastic-free and selling for anything from $5 to $500.
This year’s exhibition will again be “a delight for the discerning, environmentally conscious Christmas shopper,” promises show coordinator Susanne Giessen-Prinz.
Paintings, Christmas decorations, jewellery, garden art, and consumables – including (pre-ordered) Christmas cakes home-baked in “beautifully crafted” bowls – will be available, says Susanne.
Twenty local creatives have put many hours of work into their wares ahead of the big opening in a fortnight.
Among them is champion stitcher Wendy Coxhead who comes up with something different each year to raffle off, adding a few hundred dollars extra to the Raglan Old School Art Centre’s coffers.
Her passion is fabric and this time around the prize is an embroidered wall-hanging that took Wendy – now into her 80s and not as dexterous as she once was – many painstaking hours to complete.
Suzanne says the annual exhibition has been a major fundraiser over the years for the new clayshed out the back, and still contributes these days to its running costs. “There’s always a need to replace equipment (like kilns),” she explains.
The ever-popular clayshed now has more than 100 members, tenfold that of a decade ago when the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ exhibition was mooted.
“We’re now getting three or four new members a month,” says relative newbie Robyn Marsters. She’s matched her husband’s obsession for surfing with an obsession for pottery and “it’s my sanity”, she laughs.
Instead of making Christmas trees for the exhibition, Robyn ended up this year fixated on ceramic cats and has made 40 of them, their upright tails possibly good as ring-holders.
The cats are raku-fired in a kiln then finished off “quite dramatically” using smoke and flames, she explains, whereas her pit-fired vessels use natural combustibles like local coffee grounds, banana skins, eggshells and copper wire for effect.
Seems Raglan’s got a lot of collective talent to show off.
*The Spirit of Christmas exhibition runs in December from Saturday 9 to Sunday 17, 10am-4pm daily at Raglan Old School Arts Centre in Stewart St. Late shopping nights for those Christmas presents are Thursday 14 and Friday 15, 5-8pm.