Ceramic artists inspired by the rich and varied wildlife of North East Wales are championing a new campaign to persuade people to shop locally this Christmas.
Shelves at Gwalia Ceramics in Llangollen’s Oak Street are a testimony to the way the region’s flora and fauna are motivating these artists in clay.
The shop and gallery is run by two potters, Charmain Poole and Jacqui Atkin, who teamed up after meeting at a North Wales ceramicists group and 18 months ago they opened Gwalia Ceramics.
Charmain, from Cynwyd, near Corwen, and Jacqui, who lives in St Martin’s, near Oswestry, take turns to run the business, a week on and a week off, giving them time to work on their vibrantly coloured designs at their workshops at home.
Their business is the kind of unique shop Denbighshire County Council’s #LoveLiveLocal campaign promotes as part of the diverse and vibrant shopping experience available on the county’s high streets.
The project is centred on the busy run-up to Christmas and Charmain and Jacqui and other retailers across the county are featured on a series of videos on social media telling shoppers about the variety of shops in Denbighshire.
As part of the #LoveLiveLocal campaign shoppers can support local independent businesses by using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to share good experiences they’ve had as well as promote products and services locally they have ‘loved’.
Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire County Council, said: “Llangollen is a great example of the high-quality, unique shopping offer evident in high streets across Denbighshire.
“Small businesses like Gwalia Ceramics provide great customer service, going that extra mile to help their customers. As well the fantastic range of goods available in the county, shopping locally helps support Denbighshire’s economy.”
Jacqui’s work often features birds while that of Charmain, who spent a few years sailing the Mediterranean with her late husband, makes use of fish but other artists they sell have also been inspired by the natural world.
The foxes of Anna-Mercedes Wear, who died recently from cancer, feature prominently and so do the hares and weasels by Julie Shaw, part of a colourful and ever-changing display in the gallery.
Charmain said: “Llangollen is such a lovely town with so many interesting shops and lots of visitors and it’s midway between our homes so it’s been ideal.
“Our business model is very simple – we welcome ceramic artists whose work we like and appreciate.
“It’s nice to deal with good people and we like to promote them and particularly those who live and work in the area.”
Jacqui, the editor of ceramics magazine Clay Craft and the author of several books on pottery-making, has taught ceramics and worked in the NHS using ceramics as therapy for mental health patients.
She said: “My inspiration is drawn from many sources including a recent visit to Australia to see my daughter but the view from my studio window which looks out over my garden and the woodland beyond has the most enduring influence, changing with the seasons, a rich palette of colour and shape.
“None of what we have here in the shop is mass-produced, it is all individually made by artists in their studios and much of it is made locally.”
Gwalia Ceramics is part of the #LoveLiveLocal campaign being run by Denbighshire County Council and are featured on one of a series of short video clips to highlight what the county has to offer shoppers.
The Council is offering more support to local businesses with free car parking in all Denbighshire County Council town centre car parks after 3pm between November 21 and December 31.
For more on #lovelivelocal go to https://www.denbighshire.gov.uk/en/business/business-support-and-advice/love-live-local-caru-busnesau-lleol.aspx as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information on Gwalia Ceramics go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/showcasemakers/