ClayKilnCraft is a small pottery/arts centre in Crystal Palace, South East London
My name is Aliya Rashid and I am a ceramicist/pottery teacher. I run a small pottery in London that I need money to expand. I graduated with a first class honours degreein Ceramics from Camberwell College of Art in 2007 but found it very difficult to find affordable studio space. My equipment was in storage for a long time. It wasn't until 2011 that I found my last studio. I fell into teaching by accident when I was asked to teach handbuilding to special needs adults one summer about three years ago. I loved it and knew I wanted to do more.I started in 2014 teaching adult beginners pottery on the wheel out of my studio once a month. Demand grew and students wanted to come back and continue with their practice but unfortunately I was not able to meet this demand in my studio. I found a space in the basement of a local vintage shop. Two toilets to be exact! I also expanded into other arts, sewing, printmaking and children's pottery and general arts and crafts. The response from the local community was fantastic and very quickly I realised that this could be something really special and unique if I had more space which preferably didn't smell like a toilet!
The space I am in now, in the heart of Crystal Palace, is a lovely two floor shop. It had been standing empty for over a year when I basically harassed the poor owner until he agreed to let me work in it as a pop-up. I have been there now since August and would dearly love to make it a permanent move.
What the business does:
Since moving into this space I have gone back a bit more to basics. The business is mainly a pottery offering beginners lessons on the potter's wheel and handbuilding to both adults and children along with continuous laerning for those that want to increase their knowledge and ability. As well as lessons the pottery offers courses, after school pottery club and adult and kids pottery parties. I am offering a fantastic space for people to learn this wonderful art in a relaxed environment at a reasonaly affordable price. I have also come to realise while doing this at how much the cuts have affected something like pottery in particular. Many schools and colleges are shutting down their facilities. Indeed Camberwell College have shut down my own degree making it virtually impossible to study ceramics on a practical level to degree in London. I find this truly shocking. I want to reverse this process and show that pottery is as relevant today as it has always been
On top of this there are weekly life drawing classes, regular sewing classes, soap making as well as printmaking.
What the business needs the money for:
In the new year I am hoping to get a change of use on the building to allow me to take on the lease for the shop. This process has gone on for many months but so far the council is supporting me in this. The main problem is how much it has cost and will continue to cost. Crystal Palace is a beautiful little village set on a hill in zone 3 of London. It is also a conservation area which has meant that I have been asked to submit all sorts of reports for things like noise pollution as well as all sorts of other environmental factors. This is going to cost in the region of £3,500-£4,000 in all.
The building does require a lot os building work. On the ground floor the ceiling needs plastering and the floor needs tiling to make cleaning of the pottery a lot easier and quicker. I would also like to get extensive shelving done for the students work and also to develop a gallery area for ceramics. On this floor I also need another potter's wheel and a new sink with trap fitted to catch all the clay so that it doesn't go into the water system.Downstairs I have two rooms. One room will be converted into a large studio space for upto two people to rent on a permanent basis generating extra income. In the other room I want to convert this into a general pottery room for people who take out monthly membership to work there. They will have access to the pottery for up to 15 hours a week, a large shared area to work in, their own shelve space, an agreed number of kiln firings per month as well as limited access to glazes and recycled clay. For this space I would like to get another kiln as the one I have at the moment is struggling to keep up with the firing demands on it. I would also like to get a slab roller, extruder and several more work benches.Outside there is a lovely garden that needs a bit of attention. A party wall has partially come down and needs to be made safe and rebuilt. I would like to put up a large shed for the recycling of clay which would also need an electricity supply. When done up I would like this area to be somewhere the students can go to relax and discuss ideas. This would also be an area for firing demonstrations.
A little bit more about me:
I first discovered ceramics when I did my foundation at art college when I was around 18. Due to personal circumstances I couldn't take it further (my did wouldn't let me!) so ended up doing a degree in Graphic Design. I still work as a graphic designer doing night shifts 5 days a week. The rest of the time is devoted to the pottery, giving lessons, doing admin and a lot of cleaning!
In 2004 I did an evening class in pottery 15 years after I first fell in love with clay. I knew that I finally needed to follow my passion and applied for and got into a degree course at Camberwell College of Art. During the three years I contued to work nights as a graphic designer and study during the day. I think it's fair to say that I don't shy away from hard work. I graduated with a first class honours dregree in 2007 but struggled for many years to find a studio space.
Since starting up my pottery I have realised how dire the situation is for any would be potter out there. There is a complete lack of studio space and not many outlets offering contiuous learning at a reasonable rate. My dream is for the pottery to be open 5/6 days a week offering lessons not just to those that can afford to pay the full cost but also for adults and children with more challenging social needs who don't have the funds to take pottery classes. I want the pottery to be truly a socially inclusive creative hub in the local area open to all.In these times when everything is so rushed and instant and without any real gratification pottery is more relevant than ever. We need something to help slow us down, to learn how to live in the moment and really appreciate simple things like how to attach a handle to a mug that we have just made ourselves.