Head down for a bit of arty time over the holy month and see what you and your inner potter can produce
Time Out Bahrain staff
When it’s easy to write the summer off as a period where not much happens, Seef Mall’s annual carnival has proven to be the antidote to the onslaught of potential boredom. Since July 9, it has provided shoppers with competitions, live musicians, children’s events and more. Set to end on September 30, the final month sees it take on a Ramadan theme, particularly with the arrival of its Ramadan Cultural Fair. Part of the mall has been transformed into a traditional souk, celebrating the island’s traditional heritage and crafts. There is opportunity for visitors to get hands on, with a little help and guidance from Studio Ceramics, the paint-your-own pottery studio located just off Budaiya Highway, which has set up shop and can be visited from 6.30pm-10.30pm daily.
‘Studio Ceramics is a friendly haven for creative people,’ describes Sayra Naoumovitch (pictured above), who founded the company with business partner Anne Kesteron in September 2007 as a means of keeping their own children occupied when they first moved to Bahrain from the UK. ‘You don’t have to be an artist, but we promise that you’ll create a masterpiece every session,’ she adds.
The studio already offers a wealth of classes on its premises, including ceramic painting and clay modelling. The Gecko Club for children ages six and over launches at the end of this month on September 26, with classes from 10am-1pm, and there are ‘introduction to ceramic painting’ classes every Tuesday and Wednesday morning for adults. Holiday camps are offered for bored kids, and the Studio Ceramics team even pop along to schools around Bahrain to take one-off classes with a special mobile unit. ‘We recently did a huge project at St Christopher’s,’ Sayra reveals, ‘where children in the infant and junior classes painted tiles that are to be mounted on the playground walls.’ Whatever the occasion, and whatever the item painted, the results are then glazed and fired in the onsite kiln.
Setting up the business was obviously a huge learning curve for Sayra and Anne, whose backgrounds stem from engineering and law respectively. However, art had always been an interest, and this played a vital role in the new venture, along with learning technical skills such as the glazing and firing. Anne then took training in England to become a ceramic painting teacher, and the outfit regularly bolsters its expertise by arranging visits from local and international artists.
In addition to the Studio Ceramics area at Seef Mall’s Ramadan Cultural Fair, the Budaiya venue will also host family evenings every Wednesday during the holy month, on September 2, 9 and 16, with timings from 7.30pm-10.30pm and including complimentary refreshments for all who take part. There is also a special ladies-only night set for September 14. ‘The price includes studio time, the piece of pottery you choose to paint, use of all materials, glazing and firing,’ says Sayra. ‘Price for the Ramadan studio classes will be BD8-10.’ Fun for all the family is promised. So your handiwork will be glazed and fired onsite, but how will it work if you paint at the mall venue instead? Sayra adds: ‘Visitors can either paint in acrylics at our mobile unit in Seef Mall and take away on the night, or you can paint with ceramics and we will take the pieces back to our studio for glazing and firing. The pieces will then be ready for collection back at the mall five days later. All prices are BD5.’
Studio Ceramics devises classes around many special occasions, including Mother’s Day, Eid and Christmas, and Ramadan is expected to be just as popular. With all of these comings and goings, and so many people taking part, does the studio experience many breakages? ‘Not many,’ laughs Sayra. ‘Our white bisque is quite robust and provides an easy surface for painting. Our clay classes present a bit more room for breakage and collapse, but the pieces can usually be salvaged.’
Does that mean there are no excuses not to express our creative sides this Ramadan? ‘Art is therapy,’ Sayra explains, ‘for young and old alike. Children have no fear about plunging into artistic projects, and their work in any medium is usually original, creative and surprising. For adults, this is one artistic endeavour in which they need have no fear of producing a clumsy piece, because the finished item will always look professional – a unique masterpiece even for first timers. It’s about bringing pleasure and confidence in an artisitic medium.’
So whether it’s a cup and saucer, a vase, plate, fruit bowl or sushi dish, there are plenty of opportunities to get in touch with your inner artist this Ramadan. And thanks to Studio Ceramics, you have a choice of venues too. More info on Ramadan classes and the mobile unit at Ramadan Cultural Fair from Studio Ceramics (17 599 026). Also email firstname.lastname@example.org, and see the new website at www.studioceramicsbahrain.com.