Oxford Creates puts local talent in the spotlight

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Eight years in, Oxford Creative Connections' signature event continues to grow and attract patrons from farther afield to a showcase of made in Oxford art and literature.

People from Kitchener, London, Sarnia, Toronto and points in between turned out to Oxford Creates fine art show and sale at Oxford Golf and Country Club north of Woodstock on Saturday and Sunday.

“It's a mix of live music, literature and visual arts,” said Mary-Anne Murphy, cultural coordinator with Oxford Creative Connections.

This year's showcase featured 35 artists and 30 authors – all from Oxford County – and included a variety of work from paintings, photography, drawings and jewelery to stained glass, pottery and books.

“We enjoy the show,” said Judy MacKenzie, an artist and co-owner of Hunters Precious Metals and Rocks in Ingersoll with her partner, John Hunter. “It's local and we like to support local artists by coming to the show. It also supports Creative Connections and helps people find us.”

For Tillsonburg residents Earle Barr and his wife, Frances, creating art is a lifestyle.

“It's one of those things we just do every day,” said Earle Barr while greeting people at the booth where he and his wife had some of their photography and other artwork on display over the weekend. “If I don't do some art every day, the day isn't complete. The ideas just keep flowing.”

Earle Barr said everything he sees, whether it's nature, architecture “or anything” constantly keeps him grabbing for a pen or a camera.

“I'm always inspired and excited to do more art,” he said.

Author Elaine Cougler of Woodstock had the first two installments of her self-published Loyalist trilogy available at Oxford Creates.

The first book in the series, titled “The Loyalist's Wife,” has been selected as one of six finalists out of more than 260 entries for a self published adult fiction award presented by the Association for Art and Social Change. The winner of the award will be announced in Toronto at the end of this week.

A former Norwich resident and high school teacher, Cougler recently launched the second book in the series, “Loyalist's Luck.”

A mix of history and fiction, Cougler's Loyalist series focuses on a young couple caught in the crossfire in the American Revolution.

Cougler said her son, Kevin Couglar, inspired her to pursue the idea of writing a novel after she retired and she spent six years crafting “The Loyalist's Wife.”

“He said, 'If not now, when?' And that was the catalyst,” Elaine Cougler said.

Participating in Oxford Creates for the second year in a row, he had high praise for the event.

“The show is amazing,” she said. “There's such a wealth of creativity and just artistic excellence in this show. I feel really humbled to be part of this.”

Members of the Oxford Historical Society were promoting the organization's third Spirit of Christmas Tour of Homes on Nov. 29, which features six decorated homes on Light Street, Delatre Street, Vansittart Avenue and Brant Street in Woodstock.

Tickets for the tour are $15 per person and are available at Merrifield Book Shop.

“I'm pretty impressed,” said Cigdem Innes of London, who took in Oxford Creates with her daughter Emilie Innes, 3, and her mother-in-law, Donna Innes, for the first time on Saturday. “The quality of art here is pretty amazing. There are lots of things catching my eye.”





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