Home Hackney Downs Studios Discover Hackney Downs Studios

Boso Pottery Studio, Hackney's newest clay studio offering intimate classes

Transforming a love for pottery into a thriving career, Ania Perkowska has embarked on her upcoming venture Boso Pottery Studio at Hackney Downs Studios. From brutalist architecture to travels to Japan, her inspiration has birthed a sanctuary designed for intimate, quality teaching experiences.

Speaking in her studio, we discussed the rising popularity of ceramic arts, the evolving appreciation for handcrafted items, and the vibrant creative community at Hackney Downs Studios.

What led you into your practice? 

It all started over a decade ago, with me looking for evening pottery classes to relax after work. I wanted to do something creative and pottery was something I’ve always wanted to try. Soon I was hooked! Evening classes led to more serious courses and setting up a home studio to have more time and space to develop my work. And eventually ditching my corporate job and becoming a full time potter/ceramic artist. 

For a number of years I had been focusing mostly on exhibiting and selling my work at shows and through galleries. But I realised I’m missing more direct engagement with other people and creative enthusiasts. And sharing the passion for clay. When you’re on your own in the studio for days and days, it can be a little isolating. This led me to start teaching, which I found very rewarding. 

There is this really magical moment, when you see beginners first touch the clay, have a go on the wheel. Their eyes suddenly light up, many feel like they’re kids again, playing with mud. It’s great to be part of that! 

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Growing up as a child in communist Poland, my life was underpinned by stark concrete structures. This raw, substantial architecture had been woven into the fabric of my upbringing. Perhaps for this reason, whilst many other potters are inspired by nature, I find myself drawn to man made structures. Brutalist aesthetic, exposed materials, angular geometric shapes and minimalist colour palette. 

In 2007 I visited Japan, which had a fundamental impact on my work, both in terms of inspiration and how I view the ceramic process. Days were spent wandering the streets of Kyoto, during the biggest pottery festival in Japan, with its rich history dating back centuries. The memories and shadows of the pots seen there are continuously coming back and sipping into my work to this day.  

How did Boso come about, and what sets the space apart from other ceramic studios?

I’ve been teaching in many different studios over the years, as I needed flexibility between the shows. And my home studio was too small to have classes. So for a while I felt I’ve outgrown it and want to commit to my own teaching space. 

Having experienced so many other studios, and being a practising potter myself, I feel I have a unique insight into what works, what doesn’t, what students want, need and enjoy. I often hear about overcrowded studios, large beginner classes which are rushed and where it’s difficult to get the teacher's attention. I experienced that myself when I was starting out and it almost put me off pottery. 

That’s why my main focus when creating Boso Studio was that it’s a comfortable, relaxed and inspiring space. The emphasis is on the quality of the teaching rather than quantity of students. There’s just 4 students per class, which means I can give everyone plenty of attention and support. 

I’m also bringing the Guest Potter Programme, which is aimed at more experienced potters, where I’m inviting renowned ceramicists to do workshops and demos. Over the years, when exhibiting at ceramic shows all over the UK, I’ve met so many inspiring and interesting artists. I participated in their workshops and always found it fascinating. We all work in the same material: clay. But it’s mind blowing how many different styles and techniques are possible. The Guest Potter Programme will be a great opportunity to learn about their techniques and processes in intimate settings. 

Ceramic arts, pottery classes and clay studios have become increasingly popular and are ever accessible to those wanting to try. Can you speak a little about this? What does the future hold for ceramic artists?

This is definitely the case and certainly shows like “The Great Pottery Throw Down '' have a lot to answer for! I remember looking for pottery classes when I was starting out, it was quite difficult. Unless you enrolled on a course in college, there were just a couple of independent studios with very limited classes. Now, the map of London is literally dotter with pottery studios. 

Likewise, selling handmade ceramics to the public was a very different experience, with comments like “I can get a mug for £2 in Ikea!” quite frequent. This has changed dramatically, as people are a lot more aware of what actually goes into hand making a mug. There’s much more appreciation for the skill that goes into handcrafted items. As well as the ethos of supporting small, artisan businesses versus purchasing mass produced items from large corporations.  

There is also another interesting shift, which I think contributed to the popularity of pottery classes. It’s a change from “owning things” to “experiencing things”. Buying and collecting ceramics requires not only funds, but also space to put it!  

How does being a part of a creative community like at Hackney Downs impact your work?

I used to live in Hackney, and although now I’m in Walthamstow, I really enjoy going back to the diverse vibe it’s got to offer. Being part of a creative community was one of the main reasons I chose Hackney Downs Studios as a location for Boso Pottery. It is a destination on a map in its own right. But being surrounded by other independent creative businesses is really important to me. It creates a unique community and atmosphere, much needed when so much of our lives is spent online and on screens.

Discover more at Boso Studio's website.

Hackney Downs Residents can receive 50% off classes until the end of June. Login to Eat Work Art Access to receive your code.

Hear about studios, news & events