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“I do ceramics, but I also run a small arts organisation where we have events and there’s so many things that when you try to pull them together in another context outside of London, it feels like there’s no room for it.” -Bisila Noha

Bisila Noha’s ceramics are strongly influenced by Japanese ceramics. She makes ‘simple’ ceramic pieces that she uses as either a canvas for abstract landscapes or as the embodiment of her reflections and personal life stories. She teaches ceramics regularly at Crown Works Pottery and runs workshops with organisations. She is also co-director of Lon-art and Create, the UK’s leading charity empowering lives through the creative arts. [] What is your definition of studio space?

Okay, so for me a studio space is the place that feels maybe a little bit like home. For me personally I need to feel very comfortable in order to create and if there’s a lot of light that makes it so much better and enough space also, because when it comes to ceramics, there needs to be space for like kilns, a table, a wheel and storage so if there is space then I don’t feel cramped and I can concentrate.

It’s very important for it to feel like part of my own home and yeah, lots of light.

Collaborative/communal studio spaces are on the rise, do you believe this formula can work?

I’ve been thinking about it after reading the blog and the other interviews, and I’ve always worked in a community space and that’s where I work at the moment and essentially there is something great about those spaces because there’s a nice energy among the people and it’s nice to bounce ideas with them. It’s also very inspiring to see what other people make and their approach; we learn so much from each other. Sometimes it’s even a matter of seeing how someone does something, even if it’s just packaging, it can make such a big difference.

I feel like I would compare it to private homes. Everybody’s okay with sharing, like flat shares because we are all young and everything, but I feel like at the same time, we all crave to have our own privacy, our own space. I think when it comes to creativity I sometimes wish I had my own space because then I’ll be able to feel free. So sometimes I will go early in the day so that I know I will be on my own for instance, but because of the system we live in, and how expensive everything is it’s kind of like the only solution. So privacy is not a priority, it is what is affordable.

Communal spaces are great for so many reasons, but I think for some people they like being able to afford a space of their own because it would be so much better for their practice.

Do you think London has an impact on your art?

I think in a very positive way because I actually moved here seven years ago and one of the main reasons why I moved to London was because I felt like it was a very creative city and I didn’t used to do ceramics back then. But I felt like it was the best place to explore and there’s so many amazing people and there’s always so many things to see and to hear to get inspired by. So yes, definitely.

Also, I think it’s great to have time outside of London to relax and absorb because sometimes there’s no time to process things in London. That’s how I feel at the moment during the quarantine; I’m having so much more time to go through things that I experienced months ago and now I’m able to write about it.

Would you consider moving outside of the city?

Hmm no, I know a lot of creatives that moved down to Cornwall or like the countryside, to have more space and it’s cheaper, and maybe a better life/work balance. But um, for me, I just don’t think I could do it. I think I just love London, basically. And I’m Spanish and even thinking of going back to Spain I don’t think I could because of what I do, really.

So then because of what you do, do you think it would impact your work if you were to move out?

Yeah, I think the energy in London is very unique. And I feel like I’m in a place where everything can actually happen. I do ceramics, but I also run a small arts organisation where we have events and there’s so many things that when you try to pull them together in another context outside of London, it feels like there’s no room for it.

What do you think the future of studio space will look like?

I know that the design district is now being built. I think if they have a lot of new studios for people it could have a great impact in the design and creative scene in London, I hope. It’s hard to say with not knowing what is gonna happen after the crisis we’re in the middle of that there will be more spaces that can turn into more affordable studios for artists and I’m pretty sure from what I’m seeing in the ceramics industry that these places are thriving and there’s more and more community spaces that are being opened.

I think maybe that’s the path we’re on because people cannot really afford otherwise really.

How do you believe we can ensure artists remain in London in the future?

I think like, going back to private homes, I think when new buildings are being developed, like how there are apartments/ houses that are Council- run for different level of incomes, there could be that system for studios so everybody can afford a space. Or with a new building, there’s an area that could be for new studios, like maybe on the ground level or something. If developers could have artists in mind, and being part of like how buildings are being developed and being built. Because what happens is, especially in my case, my studio is completely outside the city and is in a very industrial and almost remote area. I think it would be nice if studios could be designed in more spaces within the city to not feel remote from the rest of the world, which is how I feel sometimes when I go to my studio. So I think developers and architects could maybe design affordable spaces that are for everyone and the more studios there are the cheaper they will be.

Is there any more you can say to how you think artists can collaborate and communicate with developers to try to maintain that cultural community?

Maybe opening communication through the London creative network? I’m not sure, but I think maybe it will be good to do surveys or gather information as to how artists feel, what artists need, and how they would like their students to be and then maybe work as a middle person between the artists and the developers, because direct communication between artists and developers seems like a utopia. And maybe this collective that is working with the artists can maybe try to push and lobby.


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