To time with London Craft Week, we are thrilled to introduce our new ‘Maker Muse’ series, in partnership with Hole & Corner - a publication celebrating and promoting creativity, craftsmanship, heritage and authenticity.
Maker Muse Bisila Noha is a Spanish London-based ceramic artist. With her work she aims to challenge Western views on art and craft; to question what we understand as productive and worthy in capitalist societies; and to reflect upon the idea of home and oneness pulling from personal experiences in different pottery communities.
Her work extends from wheel-thrown pieces with the distinctive addition of marbled slip decoration to create eye-catching abstract landscapes; to sculptural pieces mixing throwing, coiling and carving which connect Bisila to her roots, the makers that precede her and our past.
With a background in Translation and International Relations, Bisila is a passionate feminist activist. She leads the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre and co-directs Lon-art Creative, an arts and activism organisation that offers a platform for everyone to create, collaborate and reflect upon social issues through the arts. Lastly, she is part of Design Can, a campaign to make the design industry more inclusive and diverse.
Tell us about your background and your work?
I am half Spanish, half Equatorial-Guinean; born and raised in Spain.
I studied Translation, which I love. While I don’t translate anymore, I am realising now how the observational and mediation skills I learnt while studying are a key part of the way I approach my ceramics practice. After having lived in Madrid, Leipzig, Vienna and, briefly, San Francisco, I moved to London ten years ago. It was when I moved here that I took up pottery.
My practice has changed considerably in the last three years. When I started, I mainly made tableware. At the moment, I work on projects that involve some research and storytelling and that, artistically or aesthetically, blur the boundaries between the vessel and sculpture.
What has been the proudest moment in your career to date?
Being part of the exhibition ‘Body Vessel Clay: Black Women, Ceramics and Contemporary Art’ curated by Dr Jareh Das at Two Temple Place and York Art Gallery in 2022.
It was the first time my work was exhibited on a non-purely-craft context and along with other amazing black women who I admire. Moreover, I had the honour to share space with two of my main sources of inspiration, Ladi Kwali and Magdalene Odundo. That exhibition changed the way I see myself, as an artist, and was a huge encouragement to continue working on the new path I had just embarked on then.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given, that you’d pass along to fellow artisans and makers in the world of craft?
To be present. It is so easy to get hooked on the goals and what we want to achieve next. This, however, only means we miss all the amazing things that are happening now, which is all that matters.
Why is Craft important to you?
Working with clay in particular helps me feel grounded, as well as part of lineage; a tradition.
I also am grateful to be a craftswoman as working with my hands is extremely meditative and - however stressful sometimes - it gives me a lot of peace and a connection to myself in this incredibly busy city.
How do you style your Marfa Stance and why do you like the brand?
I love that I can wear it with pretty much everything. I like the brand as there is room to be creative in choosing the colour combinations and the accessories. Plus, the fact that the pieces are reversible makes them much more wearable, as well as playful. I had never had so many compliments with any other clothing item!
‘Hole-and-Corner: adj, a secret place or a life lived away from the mainstream’. What is your hole-and-corner?
As I think many people are considering now, I fantasise with the idea of living away from the mainstream, to buy land with friends, build our own houses and, potentially, run workshops and events. All in all, a life in community, closer to nature and in a more sustainable way.
Photographer: Sam Walton
About Hole and Corner
Hole & Corner was launched in Dorset in 2013 as a publication celebrating and promoting creativity, craftsmanship, heritage and authenticity.
The name is inspired by an old English phrase:‘Hole-and-Corner: adj, a secret place or a life lived away from the mainstream’It is about people who spend more time doing than talking, for whom content is more important than style; whose work is their life. It’s about telling stories of dedication.
Hole & Corner magazine is published biannually, dedicated to stories of craft, beauty, passion and skill. It is distributed internationally, with stockists including Do You Read Me?! in Berlin, Athenaeum Niewscentrum in Amsterdam and 300 Barnes & Noble stores in the US.
The online site offers regular news, recommendations and interviews with those who embody the Hole & Corner lifestyle – and offers the opportunity to buy products from our featured makers or join them at live events where you can see their unique skills up close and even try your hand at workshops and learn from the best.
In 2023, Hole & Corner is celebrating its 10th birthday, and what a lot there is to celebrate.