x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ancient pottery and natural forms inspire ceramicist Homa Vafaie-Farley

The founder of Abu Dhabi Pottery says she loves teaching her craft to other people.

Vase by Homa Vafaie-Farley. Antonie Robertson / The National
Vase by Homa Vafaie-Farley. Antonie Robertson / The National

I was born in Iran and moved to the UK as a teenager. My husband is English and we have two children.

My daughter is also a potter but has what I call a proper job, too. Our son is studying in the US at the moment.

We moved to the UAE in 1988 and I became involved with pottery more than 20 years ago. I have a real passion for this art and I love teaching it to my students.

I do not consider pottery a craft because it takes much more time and effort to learn pottery than any other art or craft. The first time I touched clay I realised that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I worked for many years on my own after taking a few short courses in the UK with various potters and colleges. I graduated from the Glasgow School of Art with a degree in ceramic design.

My family were all very supportive of my art. My husband and children encouraged me to establish my own company, Abu Dhabi Pottery.

At first I did it just for the love of clay and pottery, but it suddenly took over my life and I had to give up my other passions. These included hapkido hoi jeon moo sool, a Korean martial art in which I have a third dan black belt. There was not enough time for me to continue teaching and practising both arts.

My work is inspired by ancient Middle Eastern pottery, but also by the UAE, the sea and the desert.

Another major part of my work is creating textures in the clay and glaze that are unique. I love textured and volcanic glazed pots. Some of my pieces are created by using leaves, shrubs any dried vegetation that I find in my garden and outdoors, therefore each one is a one-off.

My biggest success was being asked to do a solo exhibition at the Aubgineh and Sofalineh Museum (The National Pottery and Glass Museum) in Tehran, Iran, which was followed by me having a permanent display of my work there.

As a company, our biggest highlight is being involved in designing and creating special pieces of handmade pottery for Table 9 by Nick and Scott at Hilton Dubai Creek. I love their passion for food, which is equal to my passion for pottery.

This was the first time I agreed to make pieces for a restaurant because I love their food and appreciate the passion they have in creating works of art, not just in terms of taste but also in terms of presentation. It is a nice feeling to see my pieces complementing those wonderful food creations.

All my pieces are individual but I would say that the most popular are my sea and desert designs, which have been bought by people of various nationalities and are usually given to people as goodbye gifts.

I would like to take my work further and introduce it in other countries such as America, France and Japan. I have had invitations to hold exhibitions in all of these countries.

I have also been contacted by several art dealers wishing to take my work to other countries. I would also like to give more lectures both locally and abroad to bring about more awareness on the fact that pottery is an art and not just a craft.

The Abu Dhabi Pottery workshop and gallery is located on 16th Street in Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi, opposite Khalidiya Park. For more information, visit www.abudhabipottery.com or www.homafarley.com, or call 02 666 7079, 050 558 1584 or 050 678 0968