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The present buying panic might be creeping in so here at ESP we’ve been looking for some ideas for gifts that will also help support local businesses – a double good deed!

There are some great things about that we’ll try and introduce you to and one perfect place to head for inspiration is the new website

Whether it’s a Peterborough branded souvenir or a unique gift created by one of the city’s talented crafts people or artists, you can buy online here.

The site’s brought several talented artists on board creating a platform for them to sell their amazing products from paintings and mosaics to jewellery and candlesticks.

One of them is Christine Withall who produces some wonderful ceramics.

Christine is a member of Peterborough Artists’ Open Studios and has exhibited her work in and around the city.  She’s also exhibited at a number of exhibitions in Bourges in France but Christine thinks is a great opportunity to showcase what she does locally.

“I am a ceramic artist based in Peterborough and although it’s great to show art in new and interesting venues, it’s equally important for me personally to support local business in my home town.

“Any type of art support is good; it helps new and developing artists with the confidence to progress and grow. This also makes artists feel part of a supportive community.”

It’s also great to see that Peterborough provides opportunities for local aspiring artists to get started – Christine actually gained her skills in ceramics at an evening class at the City College back in the nineties.

Now more than ever many of us are considering how best to fulfill our dreams. That moment came for Christine a few years ago and she’s not looked back.

“We had this 10 x 8 shed which we gave to my mum-in-law (Eva), when she passed away, we got it back. This shed in sections stayed on the patio under a cover for about 3 years. Before Eva died, she gave me a gift of some money and said use it for a dream, so in the bank it went until a suitable dream came along.

“Standing on the patio looking at this shed one day thinking we must really do something, it was one of those moments I can still remember it, that’s going to be my pottery studio. So, a studio was built.”

If you’re looking for something quirky, bright or striking, Christine’s distinctive ceramics would make a lovely gift for someone… or even yourself! Creating is clearly a passion for this Peterborough artist.

 “I love the whole journey with a piece of clay,” says Christine, “but my fun is when an idea just pops into my head. I never sketch, so if I see an image or shape in any form in a magazine, an object or in nature itself. The birth/seed of an idea can just randomly pop into my head.

“My pleasure producing my ceramics is first of all it has survived the process, then the joyful feeling when someone wants to own a piece of my art that I have made with my own hands.”

Christine says many people just don’t realise what a great mix of artists they have right on their doorstep, so let’s hope that the new online gift shop plays its part. Visit the website and take a look at Christine’s bright and wonderful ceramics (and much more from other artists too).

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