From the clayHow the Covid lockdowns birthed a new pottery studio in Tottenham
When in the UK, I have always lived in Haringey, but in 2013 I opened my first pottery studio, Turning Earth, in Hoxton, with its reputation as a creative haven.
Turning Earth was the first community ceramics studio in the whole of the UK that was run on the US model, where pottery has been a broadly accessible pastime for a long time.
Upon my travels to America, I was amazed that you didn’t have to be a professional potter to practice ceramics seriously there. London seemed like an impoverished place to live in without a well-appointed pottery studio and the creative community that came with it, and I became determined to open one.
Nine years later this interest in ceramics has only grown, with the influence of BBC’s The Great Pottery Throw Down (which first aired in 2015), and the rise crafting during the pandemic.
We opened a studio in West Green, in December. It has already proven more popular than we could have expected.
The majority of our members live locally, and are hobbyists − they now finally have ready access to what has been missing for them − a studio they can come to any time they want. This enabling them to put in the many hours of practice that you need to master a craft.
The decision to expand Turning Earth into new communities came during lockdown when it looked like we might go under. Our users in Hoxton and Leyton (our second studio) fought hard to keep the studios afloat, providing critical f inancial support before the government loans kicked in. Their generosity really moved me, and all the messages of support helped me to see just what the studio meant to them.
However, many of them couldn’t easily return to the studio even as the government lifted restrictions because the commute was just too much in the new world that Covid-19 had created. I made the commitment then that if we survived, we would open Turning Earth studios within an easy walk or cycle of more people.
I spent a lot of my lockdown in Lordship Rec with my toddler and small baby, meeting up with friends for socially distanced walks. While on one of those walks, I saw the West Green building along Downhills Way. It’s a beautiful Victorian factory with a saw-toothed roof and even from the street I could see that it would have incredible natural light.
I wouldn’t have noticed the building if the pandemic hadn’t changed the geography of my life, making me intimate with my local area in a way that I hadn’t been before.
I work with two of my brothers and my sister-in-law, who also live in Tottenham, so our team is very invested in this area. It feels fitting that the commitment to bringing Turning Earth into more communities in the wake of the pandemic means that I now have one on my own doorstep. I’m excited to see what having a creative resource like this does to the area.
For more information: turningearth.org