Aliya Ahmad teaches pottery and the mum-of-four told WTM she has plans to take her craft into the community.
Pakistani native Aliya first came to Bahrain back in 2001 and, seeking an outlet for her creativity, decided to try a pottery class. From that small beginning a love affair with clay was born and these days her home is filled with lovingly crafted pieces.
From Bahrain Aliya moved to Dubai and Canada, following her banker husband’s career. Then last August the couple arrived back on the island and she decided to put her experience to work teaching pottery classes for adults and also for kids, as part of an art initiative at Al Riwaq Art Space.
From busts to pots to lamp bases to figurines, Aliya creates unique items which add interest in every nook and corner of her home. With their bright colours and unique glazes, students who visit for her adult classes cannot help but be inspired.
She says: “What I do is not exactly classes in any structured way; I just want to show people how to work with clay so that it will come together properly and give them the technical knowledge needed to make beautiful things for themselves.”
Currently her students are all women, though she does offer mixed sessions and found several businessmen joined her groups in Dubai revelling in the opportunity to loosen their ties, kick back and get their hands dirty.
“Everyone starts with the basics of making a coil pot,” she explains. “In this group, one lady made a large lamp base, another a pot based on one I have on display in my home. Everyone came up with their own ideas and went away satisfied with what they’d produced. Surprisingly, there were some quite large pieces, which was nice for me to see.”
Not content with sharing her knowledge in classes or sessions, Aliya now has her heart set on establishing a series of art centres to give back to the local community.
She says: “I live close to Karranah and, when we first moved here, I was told to be careful of the local village residents – but I have never had any trouble. I go through the village regularly and the youngsters always smile and wave.
“It seems to me that there is a distinct lack of things for young people to do and I would like to address that. At the age of five or six, you can direct children towards anything. If they are directed towards causing trouble, then that’s what they will do. I want to direct them towards art.”
Her hope is to seek donated land and portable buildings to set up an art centre where young people can learn not just pottery but a range of other art skills, for free.
“If it’s on their doorstep, fun and free, young people will come and the hope is that five or ten years down the line, those children will be making art rather than making trouble.”
The plan is still in its infancy and Aliya is currently planning to speak with the local governorate to seek a location for what she hopes could be the first of many such centres around the island.
Find out more about Aliya’s work at
www.oarat.com, facebook.com/oarat.ART and Instagram oarat_pottery_ceramics.