The Kowhai Collective

I’m now showing my prints in a gorgeous wee shop “The Kowhai Collective” in central Ōtautahi, Christchurch. This is super exciting for me, for several reasons; One, I get to take part in a community that runs a small retail shop in the centre of my home town. Two, this provides a physical space to show my work among many other talented designers, makers and artists.

Here’s a small summary for you on how the shop works; Every designer that signs on to be a part of the collective donates their time to the running of the shop. This is usually done by committing to some hours minding the shop and working behind the scenes. In turn they then display their work in the retail environment that “The Kowhai Collective” shop provides.

So here is where I go off philosophical ramblings the deep end…

I’ll tell you why I loved this wee shop for quite awhile now. I love anything creative, from fine art to a washcloth someone has hand knit. Once upon a time when we were but a “primitive” ape like animal we all started to figure out how to make tools to make our day to day lives easier. We made weapons to defend ourselves from dangerous animals (be they a human, or tiger), tools to help with food production, we built our own shelters, allowing us to extend our living areas away from caves. This nutting out of a tool/creation to suit a purpose was using , in part, the creative brain.

This act was something, by and large, all of us participated in. Eventually we have specialised, creating structures that allowed particular people to get really proficient at their discipline. Progressing us, in hugely generalised way, to where we are now.

As the specialisations have taken over how we approach problems, some of us have come back to the simple making of things, the choosing of colours and textures, the feeling of pride when you make a blanket for a loved one. This shop/community not only provides an outlet and an audience, it helps show how things look that are handmade, how they work and how even a block of soap can be a thing of beauty.

Woven into craft in many ways are the storytellers. Since forever we have told stories, decorated homes, created a mood or ambience, drawn visual reminders of things, people and places we love… No matter how many millions of dollars an overpriced artwork may fetch, at its core, it started as a cave drawing thousands of years ago. It existed to communicate, warnings, stories and pass on knowledge.

These crafts they link us back to our ancestors, the many generations that have come before us evolving and pursuing a better future for our children and a means to ensure our social status. It’s part of what makes us the “human” animal.

All this making, storytelling and embellishing, it makes us, us. We have done it for thousands of years, it’s the part of the evolving brain that gets us out of trouble as much as it gets us into it.

Goodness! I did not imagine I would wax lyrical to quite that extent. But there you go.

Why not, if you are in town, get some yummy kai at “Little High” an amazing coffee at “C1” and head over to “the Kowhai Collective” and be inspired. They are open Wednesdays to Saturdays, 10am – 5pm. Maybe you’ll see me! Sign up to their socials and stay in touch if you would like to join workshops even, as that is currently being discussed. 🙂


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