Jet — the artists collective which runs its own very successful shop in downtown Raglan — is taking off.

Raglan ceramics artist Hayley Hamilton says she and three other local artists from Jet Collective are so convinced “shared creativity” works they’ve joined forces with three Cambridge artists to open another shop in the South Waikato town.

Called LEFT because “everything we’ve used (to outfit the premises) had been left behind”, the shop’s a collaboration by a group of creatives who believe there’s a place for their hand-crafted products in today’s consumer-driven, technology-saturated culture.

Like Jet which has traded in the main street of Raglan for 11 years now, the LEFT Makers Collective — as they’re called — not only own and operate the Cambridge gallery themselves but make every single piece of work within it.
Also like Jet, each member of the collective works in the shop one day of the week where responsibility is shared, overheads are low and freight costs non-existent, says Hayley.

“Shared creativity can succeed,” she insists, pointing to Jet’s longevity.
Fellow Raglan artists Karla Stevenson — who, like Hayley, turns her hand to painting and ceramics — Sarah Stead who makes jewellery and fabric designer Rebecca Dowling of Scintilla fame agree. “LEFT is a space that merges our creative worlds,” they say.

They’d toyed with the idea of having a second outlet somewhere else for a few years now. After taking over an old Empire Street nightclub, the seven artists spent a month turning it into what Hayley describes as a “beautiful, romantic space”.
Hayley’s hubby Craig built some walls and generally did the hard labour. “He didn’t know what he was getting himself into,” Hayley confessed to the Chronicle.

In true Raglan style, just about everything used in the fit-out has been recycled. Even the shop sign outside was made from tin cans, old milk bottles and pellets, and it “looks beautiful” says Hayley.

Retro amber lights from dumps and charity shops are also used along with an old ladder, drums from a Salvation Army shop and a wooden counter from haberdashery days to show off displays inside.

An old desk with a glass top contains jewellery, and shelving is made from old piano parts.

The result is LEFT — a retail shop, a gallery, a creative space, a concept. “It is a way for us to open doors to our studios and workshops,” say the artists, “to let you peek inside and hang out for a while.”

And not only is everything about the shop and its fittings “left behind”, adds Hayley, but the shop’s on the left of a one-way street in Cambridge — and, hey, Raglan’s on the left-hand side of New Zealand, she quips.

LEFT opens officially with wine and nibbles tomorrow, Friday June 14 at 7pm, if Raglanites care to venture to Cambridge.

Edith Symes