Art excellence .. Oxford hairdresser Donna Coster with her portfolio of work, done as an adult Year 13 art student at Oxford Area School last year. The work is part of the Folio exhibition which opened at the Arts in Oxford Gallery last week. PHOTO: SHELLEY TOPP


Every year, staff at the Arts in Oxford Gallery are impressed by the high quality of work submitted for the Oxford Area School’s annual NCEA art folios exhibition.

This year’s exhibition, Folio, an exhibition of Oxford Area School NCEA art folios by students achieving excellence, opened last week.

It contains work from eight Year 11 students, four Year 12 students and one Year 13 adult student, Donna Coster, a hairdresser in the town whose children went to the school.

Donna said she was encouraged by Oxford Area School’s head art teacher, Charlotte Davis, to join the school’s Year 13 art class.

This was after taking part in the Arts in Oxford Gallery’s life drawing night classes, which provide tuition on observation and drawing techniques.

She contacted the school’s principal, Mike Hart, to see if it would be possible for her to join the art class. He gave her his approval saying: “I can’t see why that would be a problem.”

Donna said she enjoyed working with the younger pupils in her class.

“It was an absolute privilege to get back into the classroom.”

She believed that the students also benefited from having an adult classmate because they saw how she valued the opportunity to learn, which seemed to give them a better appreciation of the value of education.

Donna hopes to eventually have her own solo exhibition at the Arts in Oxford Gallery.

“That is my ultimate goal,” she says.

Her work is influenced by Canadian artist Adam Lupton and New Zealand’s Seraphine Pick.

The Folio exhibition runs until Sunday, May 23.