@studio.cogais on instagram

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The studio is all set up. It feels like a meditative space from which to create. The making theme is Christmas, in preparation for the Gordon Castle Walled Garden Christmas Craft Fayre on 30th November and 1st December. These are some of the things I have made so far. Plenty more things in the making. Quite an eclectic mix of pieces.

I struggle with the whole concept of Christmas because of the commercialism and materialism, yet here I am directly contributing to the commodification of Christmas that I rail against each year. By contributing the takings to the ceramic group funds, I’m not profiting directly, but I am still contributing to the whole consumerism frenzy that takes place.

Whilst making these pretty things, I am holding a tension between the hypocrisy of the fading reality of what I was told to be the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ and the frantic consumerism that dominates the culture within which I live.

Making the pretty tiny houses, I became mindful of the stark contrast between people’s lives in Moria Refugee Camp on the Greek island of Lesvos and my life here in Moray or Leeds where I lived up until 19 months ago. I am still haunted by the images I witnessed in Lesvos in 2018. Why am I making tiny pretty houses when people are battling the cold weather in tents, queuing for hours for food, denied my passport privilege because they were born in the ‘wrong’ country.

Whilst making the rustic tree decorations and using the strap line, ‘I’m Dreaming of a Rustic Christmas’, I am mindful of the people I have encountered living in refugee camps in Palestine and the struggle for their existence, denial of freedom of movement and their right to self determination. The Bedouin communities who have extended hospitality to me during visits to Palestine and the harassment I have witnessed and the oppression they experience on a daily basis from the Israeli army and extremist colonisers living in the illegal Israeli settlements.

As people flock to the shops and the Christmas craft markets, I am reminded of the people I know, who cannot, through no fault of their own, possibly ever afford the luxury of even showing up to a Christmas craft venue. Besides, I doubt that public transport operates links between poor communities and exclusive private estates. I am reminded of people I have encountered who have walked for miles to get to a food bank and those who go to community cafes for an affordable hot meal because they have had their financial support sanctioned whilst the privileged classes continue to enjoy their wealth.

And finally I remember many people I have met who are seeking asylum in the UK who are forced to live with the distress of destitution. I can only conclude that the policies created by the UK politicians are done so because they fail to recognise the humanity of people from other countries, seeking safety from war, persecution and poverty.

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