Art & creativity  |  13 Apr 2021

Gail Carson literally has a “feel” for creating a valuable resource from discarded ‘junk’.

For more than 20 years, Gail has picked over the items on offer at non-profit recycling space Creative Junk to put together tactile books for blind and low-vision children.

She says that the craft items “are not junk at all”, describing Creative Junk as “a wonderful place where resources are recycled and reused”.

“I visited Creative Junk for more than 20 years, having run a volunteer group that makes tactile - feel and touch - books for local blind and visually impaired children.”

Creative Junk, which saves a huge range of potentially landfill-bound items for recycling, has recently benefited from a $9750 grant from the Christchurch City Council’s Strengthening Communities Fund.

Now retired and a Creative Junk volunteer, Gail says she “spent a lot of time searching the shelves for anything to help make the tactile books”.

“I was always looking for red leather for animal tongues or green leather for frogs,” she says.

“Buttons, corks, feathers, fine corrugated card, magnets, musical cards, sheep’s wool, textured wallpaper - my list was endless. I never knew what we would need until a book was being prepared. Now that I have retired, I have recently joined Creative Junk as a volunteer to help sort the tremendous amount of resources donated.”

For 40 years, Creative Junk has promoted the importance of recycling through creative and imaginative use. Children, early childhood education centres, schools and recreations groups and those with disabilities all make the most of the space and on-site activities.

Creative Junk Co-ordinator Christine Gayton says that the charity “shows people how to create heaps of wonderful things and even potentially grow a business while developing their skills”.

“It is amazing how many people can benefit from Creative Junk,” she says. “We are often out in the community, working with people to show how they can use our recyclable material to create incredible things.

“Our space users not only find an outlet for their creative tendencies and a cost-efficient and waste-friendly option to the creative process, they can also connect with others who have a similar passion, and build friendships through regular craft events. We only make a small portion of our income through the sale of resources and rely on the generosity of the community to remain open – so the Council grant is very valuable for day-to-day costs and many community-focused activities.”

The Councils Strengthening Communities Fund supports organisations whose projects and focus contribute to stronger community wellbeing.

Photo: Creative Junk Co-ordinator Christine Gayton  sorts through a range of colourful items.