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Across the road from the Hororata Café and Bar, sits a rectangular building, dating back to the late 1800’s.
Its cream colour walls are full of stories to be told.
Many locals remember the building as the Hororata Hotel. Today the building’s evolving story is one of Frank Hakkaart and Sarah Handley and their pottery and artisan store; The Artist’s In.
The name The Artist’s In is a nod to the fact the place used to be an inn, but by placing ‘Artist’ in front of the ‘In’, it claims the space for the artists. This refers to the 50 artists whose works ‘In’-habit the store.
“We didn’t want a gallery as such,” says Frank “so we’ve called it a store. It’s still quality products that we are providing, but it’s not a high-end gallery with expensive artworks, it’s all accessible and all made locally.”
If you drive by on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, a red ‘open’ flag hangs in the entrance way.
As you enter the store, you will be greeted by the wonderful George, the store’s friendly employee; a grey tabby, who likes making himself known to visitors and loves a good chin scratch.
After saying hi to George, take a stroll around the store and you will discover some of Selwyn’s best artists. Got a friend’s birthday coming up? You can find the perfect gift for them here!
A huge variety of crafts and artworks are on display: art from Mike Glover to Margaret White and gifts from candles to soaps and Coalgate Honey.
The crafts also include Frank’s pottery and Sarah’s clay cats. Frank says having your art on display is every artist’s dream.
“It’s all about having your work out there and being seen. And this store just encourages people to get involved in buying art and craft in Selwyn.
There’s a lot of online stuff nowadays, but I think a lot of people still want to stand in front of a piece of art and look at it, before they commit to buying it.”
Beyond the store is Frank’s pottery studio and the rest of the house, which they are currently renovating.
In late 2020, Frank and Sarah came across the former hotel building, which had been sitting on the market for quite some time.
The pair were residing in West Melton, where Frank had his pottery studio and gallery. Due to the interest in their gallery and Frank’s pottery lessons, they soon realised they needed a bigger space.
The Hororata Hotel was the perfect solution, not only did it offer more space, but it gave Frank the opportunity to put his renovating skills and experience to use.
“I’m a potter, but I like fixing things. It was about creating a place where I can do my pottery full time and make a living out of it. The gallery, pottery classes, restoring the grounds and building is basically a full-time job.”
Frank and Sarah’s goal is to transform the building into a warm, dry home and revive some of the building’s original features dating back to early 20th century.
The backyard area which sits on a flood plain, will be converted from a beer garden into a native bush walk, mitigating the flooding with the planting of natives as a part of the Te Ara Kākāriki Greenway Canterbury Trust’s Greendot programme.
When he’s not renovating, Frank is teaching pottery, by offering ‘give it a go’ classes and taking two groups for regular night classes.
For Frank, pottery is his happy place.
“I love throwing, I love sitting at the wheel and making stuff. The whole creative process, getting it through, glazing it, seeing what comes out of the kiln at the end of firing it, you just never quite know what it is going to look like.
And I guess to some extent it’s what fixing the building is about too, it’s quite a creative process. We’re having to really stretch ourselves on how we can repair things.”
During the process of restoring the building, Frank has uncovered many old relics and antiques, which you can view in a display case at the store.
Coins dating back to 1903, an ink bottle, old records and an 1875 newspaper clipping are a few of the many items on show, providing a glimpse into the past.
“There’s a lot of local history tied up in the place which is nice. We try and learn as much as we can.”
Frank has heard many stories from visitors over the years.
“One guy came in a little while ago and said he helped build this part when he was just a young builder in the ‘70’s and then he used to work as a bartender on the Saturday nights. He was full of great memories."
The Artist’s In is not just a store, it is a story of the past, the present and the future.
A story of Selwyn artists and the community who are shaping the building’s new lease of life.