Muhummad Ali once said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” He wasn’t the first to have said it, nor the last. The plain truth is that taking risks - even small ones - opens up a whole host of possibilities and understandings. It builds confidence, opens creative pathways and makes future success a real prospect.
Student, Christine Winbush, is no stranger to risk-taking though she’ll be the first to tell you that it doesn’t come naturally. In some ways she’s been forced into it - firstly by immigrating to New Zealand from her native South Africa. Then, later, when she discovered her vision was deteriorating, she had to abandon her plans to study towards a doctorate in Social Work and come up with a way to create a living that could adapt to her changing condition.
It was The Learning Connexion, with its focus on hands-on learning and strong emphasis on experimentation and risk-taking, that drew Christine to enrol. It wasn’t a decision she made lightly. “It was a huge risk and adaptation going from being a wage earner to trying to earn a living through art in which I had no formal training, but was only a hobby at that stage,” she says.
As Christine immersed herself in creative study, she found her thinking transforming in unexpected ways. Risk-taking began to feel more natural. So when she was encouraged to apply to show her work in the 60th Ceramicus exhibition (hosted by the Wellington Potters’ Association) in late 2018, she took a deep breath and plunged right in. It paid off. Not only were her works selected for the show, but her totem pole entry - the first exhibit to sell on opening night - went on to win the People’s Choice Award.
‘Totem of Joy’, by Christine Winbush
Christine is quick to acknowledge the invaluable support she received along the way from her TLC tutors, Perry Scott and Mel Ford. They were, she says, instrumental in helping her to build her skills to the level required for this type of event. (We’d like to note, too, that five of Mel’s students - both past and present - were chosen to exhibit in the Ceramicus exhibition - a credit to her exemplary teaching skills).
As Christine meets and completes each new challenge, her confidence grows in leaps and bounds. “This recognition is a great validation for me as an artist with the disability of limited vision, as my work was chosen on its own merits. This encourages me that I can sell and exhibit on the same platform as sighted artists,” she says.
It’s not just about making money for Christine, however. Spend any amount of time with her and you sense a generosity of spirit and creative passion that transcends the practicalities associated with establishing a viable business. “Although the decision to pursue my hobby as a career was in a way forced by my disability, I love the life I have now,” Christine says. “Creating with clay gives me dreams and hope, and a joy that I want to pass onto others,” she says. “I want my art to bring a smile…”
‘In the frame’, by Christine Winbush