Today on the blog, we are excited to highlight London-based ceramicist and activist Bisila Noha.
Her ceramics are inspired by Japanese design, with an emphasis on wheel-thrown pottery decorated with marble slip patterns. Bisila also uses her platform as a force for good - she is a Trustee at Headway East London and is part of the Design Can team - an initiative to make the craft and arts industries more diverse and inclusive.
The artist - Bisila Noha. Photo: Aucoot.
Tell us about your journey. What inspired you to begin designing and making ceramics?
I started making ceramics because I felt an urge to explore my creativity. I had moved to London and a friend recommended a ceramics course she was doing; and the rest is history!
While I come from a creative background as I studied Translation, which is an extremely creative career, I had never been to an arts course or anything similar. It was very catalysing to feel the clay in my hands moving, changing and being shaped. I will never forget that first day at the wheel.
What are some of the biggest rewards of working in the craft sector? Challenges?
Crafts, to me, are a synonym of community. To me, the best thing about being a craftswoman is that it opens a door to other realities and ways of being and living that I would not have access to otherwise. That is why I love travelling to visit other makers in different countries. It is not only about the making, but also about those human connections.
The biggest challenge is to make a living out of it in a world that is generally hungry for ready-made, cheap goods. While there is a growing interest in the crafts - at least in London -, being somehow ‘outside the system’ is tricky. Rewarding. But tricky.
As an artist, what does craftsmanship mean to you?
It means community and history. Crafts have been with us, humans, since forever; especially ceramics. They are the testimony of our shared past. I find that very humbling. As a mixed-race woman, in between cultures, and after having lived in different countries, I have struggled in the past to know what home meant to me. It is in the global pottery community that I have found a home.
Bisila's ceramics. Credit: Thomas Broadhead for OmVed Gardens.
What are some tips on encouraging more people on getting involved in craft and learning new skills in different disciplines?
Crafts are well-known for their therapeutic treats. Making is relaxing and shooting. So if anyone is in need for some good me-time, I would encourage them to spend some time with a craft.
Also it is pure fun in a very meaningful way. I recently did a course and started working with plaster and metal. No expectations and no intend to change ‘careers’. I just wanted to have fun and get to know more materials. Being in contact with materials, using our hands in a way we are no longer used to and finding ways to activate our creative juices (which all of us have!), can make us feel like a kid again, which I think is very important for our mental health. We take life too serious in general. Crafts can help revert that.
Any new upcoming projects you would like to share?
I am part of a group exhibition opening on September 18th at Watts Gallery, which is about the usage of colour in clay. Other than that, I cannot share much info about the projects I have coming up, but I have an exciting half a year ahead.
Bisila's ceramics are renowned for their marbling accents. Photo: Bisila Noha.
"To know your artisan is to connect with your community."
- Bisila Noha
It was an honour to speak more with Bisila about her creative practice! To learn more about Bisila's design practice, head on over to her website. If you're based in London, you can also view Bisila's ceramics in person at the Colour in Clay Exhibition at Watts Gallery in London.