The team behind my Christmas 2023 window

The Pantiles Big Reveal

This is the third year running of The Pantiles Christmas window and I love taking part. It's a true labour of love and for the last year I have hand-painted my window along with my dear friend and local creative Josephine Compton. You can see the previous two years designs here and here

Tunbridge Wells Jewellery Shop Christmas window design

An angelic idea

This year I decided that I wanted create something completely different, but it still had to be eye-catching and memorable. I thought it would be lovely to make something that involved local school children who might enjoy coming to The Pantiles Christmas Windows Big Reveal with their families to see what they had made. The Big Reveal is always such a fun and exciting evening with food, entertainment and the unveiling of the shops in The Pantiles' Christmas windows. The evening always feels so Christmassy and festive and all the wonderful creative businesses in The Pantiles put on such a wonderful display.  I originally thought of getting children involved in making Christmas decorations, but the idea evolved into the children making brightly coloured feathers to create a giant pair of angel wings.

Catherine planning Christmas jewellery shop windows Tunbridge Wells

Making it happen

I got in touch with six schools through friends, family and customers and was excited that four were keen for their year 5 and 6 children to get involved. I created a pack of instructions for each school that included pre-cut coloured card templates for over 400 feathers with assorted materials to use for collage, such as magazine pictures, coloured paper and tissue. 360 children took part in total from Broadwater Down, St. Johns, St. James and Rose Hill Primary Schools. 

Cat Helping to Make Catherine Hills Jewellery Christmas window

Catherine Hills Tunbridge Wells Jewellery Shop windows

Getting involved

Ideally I would have liked to go into each of the schools to help the teachers with a feather decorating session - but in the end it was only possible, with help from a great friend who is a teaching assistant at the school, to go into St John’s. I spent two really rewarding afternoons working with children from years 5 and 6.

Catherine Hills Tunbridge Wells Jewellery Shop Windows

What was particularly fascinating were the different ways that children tackled the task - the children that wanted to work with their friends, those who wanted to do it all themselves, those that were really focused and those that enjoyed the creative atmosphere.

Catherine Hills Tunbridge Wells Jewellery shop Christmas window designs

The range of results was also really interesting - from the neat and precise to the more atmospheric. It was so interesting that it made me want to explore working as an art therapist. It was so wonderful to see first hand the value that a collaborative, creative project brings.

Attaching rainbow feathers to angel wings

The results

The finished wings include a total of 488 feathers and are a symbol of Christmas, but also: inclusivity, diversity, hope and good fortune in uncertain times. 

Finished angel wings hung in Catherine Hills shop window

I am really proud of taking this project on and the opportunity to work with children, which was out of my comfort zone. As a jeweller I am used to being in control of every aspect of a project - but this experience really challenged me to think differently. I had to make some feathers myself (as some children were absent) and in fact it would have been quicker to make them myself as all the organising took a lot of time. But what I learned was that by working together, and trusting the children and their teachers, we would end up with something really beautiful for Christmas. Because Christmas is all about children. I do hope they will be as excited as I am about the finished wings.

Catherine Hills and Rolo lettering the shop door

Between the evening of Saturday 18th November and Friday 24th November 2023 you can vote for your favourite window here. 

The window competition has made Christmas in The Pantiles even more special and it’s been great to see such a buzz in the area with people choosing to shop small and local this year. I wanted to give a special mention to my friend Josephine Compton who once again helped me bring this project to life, to all the local children and their schools who made the most beautiful feathers, and also to my wonderful neighbours on the Pantiles Lower Walk.

Catherine Hills Jewellery Christmas window Tunbridge Wells The PantilesRolo Airedale Terrier outside Catherine Hills Jewellery The Pantiles Tunbridge Wells

Catherine Hills Jewellery shop Tunbridge wells windowTunbridge Wells Jewllery shop windowTunbridge Wells Jewellery Shop window