Pottery Classes and How They Helped Me Settle In

Some samples made by Mary on display in the studio

In the months following our move to South Africa, when it became abundantly clear that I would find it next to impossible to get a job here, I started looking for hobby and interest groups that would help me get to know some people and also keep me occupied. Despite not having an iota of creativity, I was drawn to pottery. After looking for classes in the vicinity, I stumbled upon the Brooks Art and Pottery Studio. Run by Roy, a renowned artist and sculptor, and his wife Mary, a potter, the place looked perfect for my newly acquired interest.

Linsey & Mary in front of their beautiful wall
Linsey & Mary in front of their beautiful wall

While Ray gives art lessons, Mary and their daughter Linsey teach pottery. Without any delays, I quickly enrolled into a Wednesday morning class. This was by far one of the best decisions I have made. Besides honing (or rather developing) my artistic capabilities, these classes played a huge role in helping me settle down in a country that was new to me and a city where I barely knew anyone.

The relaxed atmosphere of the studio, Mary’s warm nature, Linsey’s endearing smile and the great bunch of people in class, put me at ease at once. In the initial days, this was the only place where I would have a real conversation with people without having to look into a computer screen or a phone. I owe a large part of my sanity to these once-a-week classes.

A student at work
A student at work on the wheel
Over the last 2.5 years, while I may not have acquired the skill of perfectly ‘throwing’ on the wheel or painting my pots, I have, however, acquired a whole bunch of new friends and first hand information on what takes to live in this city! For this, the great conversations, the warmth and the love, I will forever be grateful.
Address: 9 Lily Avenue, Dunvegan, Edenvale, Johannesburg
Classes: Morning and evening classes available over the week. Please email/call the studio for more information.
Contact: +27 (0)11 454-1613/marybrooks@telkomsa.net
More work in progress
More work in progress
Made by a student
Made by a student

21 thoughts on “Pottery Classes and How They Helped Me Settle In

    1. Yes Rajiv, visa regulations are very stringent in SA. And also since the local level of unemployment is very high, getting a work permit and subsequently a job, tends to prove very challenging for non SA citizens.

      1. What I have realised is that people who already have job offers before moving to SA (like a lot of our friends and my husband), for them it’s not an issue. It’s the dependents and tag alongs that just cannot get past the red ape and bureaucracy!

  1. Fantastic! I was thinking of doing something similar here in Pretoria because it’s the regular interaction with the same group of people that I miss. I am doing a reading scheme through the school which will be one good way to do this. Was also thinking maybe photography, once I’m a bit more settled and can find some time πŸ™‚

    1. Yes absolutely. ..these hobby classes are really fun. Photography sounds great too. Then you can join a lot of groups that seem to fun instawalks! I see a lot in joburg for sure.

  2. Wow, you works look amazing. Didn’t know you did pottery and it looks like you have a skill for it. Finding a hobby that you enjoy certainly helps you settle down – you meet people who enjoy what you do and you have that in common to bond over. Who knows, maybe someday you will be able to sell your creations. I remember seeing markets in Joburgs in your previous posts…so you can probably set up a stall there πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you for your kind words Mabel. But unfortunately none of the works featured are mine! I was busy taking photos of others. But yes, I have made some nice stuff – if I say so myself!!
      But these classes really helped me and I appreciate the warmth I have beem shown by everyone. Wonderful people these are.

  3. I am so sorry to hear about the employment issue, it could be tough in certain countries 😦 I have met some of my expat colleagues whose spouse are facing difficulties in finding jobs in the NL or in Indonesia. I find it is great idea to expand your creativity to do the pottery and meeting new people is certainly helping the adaptation process πŸ™‚ Best wishes ❀

    1. Yes, the job scene has been pretty depressing. But the good part is, it led me to explore the creative side of me! Also led to this blog πŸ™‚ So not all that bad! Thanks for your support Indah, as always.

  4. I know it’s a typo, but I’m giggling about a mental image of the ‘red ape’ we expat spouses have to get past if we want a job. A hobby is so important here if you can’t work. I’m learning to make jewellery. It’s opened doors to a whole different social scene outside the expat community and it’s quite exciting, they let me use blow torches and mallets, I did nearly set the work bench alight once, but I’m getting better at it. πŸ™‚

    1. I didn’t realise I had written red ape! Lol
      Jewellery making sounds so interesting. So do you get to desisn them too? Good oportunity to explore some new things.

      1. I think red ape is probably quite accurate though, the boundaries keep moving, so I will now always think of a giant red ape blocking my path with future bureaucratic problems.

        Yes, we get to design our own jewellery pieces, although in my case design is perhaps too precise a term, I tend to go in with a half baked idea and make it up as I go along, whereas other students have it all planned and drawn out in advance.

  5. good to know that there is something to keep non working moms busy. I always had a passion for pottery, i hope n wish to join these classes when i reach there n settled in well.
    pls suggest other hobby classes like dancing, singing, baking etc.

    thanks in advance

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