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Twelve decades of talent

It has taken two years of planning by calligrapher Raymond Crafts and potter Heather Van Wyk, but the pair have finally come together for The Creative Gene exhibition at Tairāwhiti Museum.

The brother and sister duo come from a long line of craftspeople so it was only a matter of time before they teamed up for a show.

Crafts was preparing for a show when the team at the museum requested Van Wyk join because of her long history working with clay.

At a young age, Crafts started reading books on Celtic art and as he got older he started getting into old monastery books, which increased his passion for the craft.

“I've always taken a keen interest in illuminated manuscripts with the beautiful colours and gold leaf. I studied that more and more until I started doing it.”

The manuscripts are from Germany, France, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom and Spain.

“I'm not really an artist, I'm a copier. I've copied what the scribes have done to the nth degree.”

Another draw is Craft's psychic abilities, which he said have helped him with his work.

“In past lives I've been in a monastery in Tibet.”

Craft said his connection to the past helped him recreate the manuscript.

Van Wyk designed and crafted monastery-themed pottery featuring singing monks, detailed pots and clerics dotted throughout the room.

“I did works that were in keeping with Raymond's calligraphy,” said Van Wyk.

At 86-years-old, Crafts has been honing his talent for seven decades.

“My interest in calligraphy started at the age of eight when my Scottish grandfather taught me copperplate writing. My interest in Celtic art, and later on the illuminated manuscripts of 13th to 15th century Europe, intrigued me and I have continued to study and reproduce them”

Van Wyk is not far behind at 75-years-old, with nearly five decades of pottery under her belt.

“Forty-eight years ago I attended a pottery evening class at Te Karaka High School and ever since I have loved working with clay.”

Working with clay is in their family's blood — the pair's English ancestors worked in pottery.

Although he doesn't read Latin, Crafts can understand some of the shorter quotations printed on the side of Scottish dirks (daggers).

Some of the scripts are Crafts' own sayings and quotes drawn in his hand.

His calligraphy has been in demand. Gisborne's own Dame Bronwen Holdsworth commissioned some of his work when Poltron opened factories in America and Saudi Arabia.

The Creative Gene, Tairawhiti Museum until January 23.

CRAFTY FAMILY: Artistic siblings Raymond Crafts and Heather Van Wyk have put on a special show at Tairāwhiti Museum. Picture supplied