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Common Clay: new ceramics studio opens

As part of the Coastal Currents Festival earlier this month, Common Clay, a brand new ceramics studio, was opened by local artist, Carla Wright. Situated right here in Hastings, along Mount Pleasant Road, the studio is the centre piece of Carla’s effort to bring together fellow artists and share resources, ideas and experiences, as well as offer community workshops and open studios to help teach and inspire new artists. HOT’s Jordan Dixon spoke to Carla about her motivations, future goals for the project and the importance of engaging with fellow artists, both established and aspiring.

Tell us about your beginnings as an artist.

I did a Fine Art BA at Bath Spa University and an MA at Chelsea College of Art and Design, and I’ve worked as an artist ever since – making interactive sculpture and organising participatory events. I set up a project space in Clapton, London as part of the artist collective, Vulpes Vulpes, who I still work with through residencies and socially engaged projects alongside my own practice.

What was the motivation behind opening ‘Common Clay’.

I’ve always wanted to establish a long-term creative space within a community. I’ve had a studio for years, set up project spaces and worked at galleries in the past. But what I really wanted was a communal making space rather than a private studio or exhibition space, where artists can work together and share ideas through making.

When I first moved to Hastings I was searching for an open-access ceramics studio I could use part-time to make my work whilst meeting others artists, but I couldn’t find anything. I attended Sussex Coast College for an evening class which was amazing, and I ended up using the class just for the facilities, and a lot of other people do too. But the problem is that there’s only 3 hours access a week at a set time, which isn’t flexible enough for a lot of people.

Last year a printmaker friend of mine was given a large ceramics workshop and asked if I’d like to buy all of the equipment, tools, glazes, everything. I just couldn’t pass up this amazing opportunity, so that’s basically how Common Clay began.

Where did the name ‘Common Clay’ originate from?

Inside the studio.

Inside the studio.

I wanted a name that would convey a sense of community and collectivity. Also the studio is situated in Common Mormon Studios and the owner has been so supportive of the project, so I liked the idea of it being a kind of sister project.

Why is it important to you to connect with other artists and offer them creative facilities?

I think having a supportive network of artists is so important. Sharing skills, resources and ideas with my peers have been paramount to sustaining my own art practice. Ceramics equipment is so expensive and I am lucky to have found the opportunity to acquire everything at a pretty low cost, so I really want to share this equipment with others that need it too.

Why do you feel it is important to engage with the local community and
 assist aspiring artists?

Throughout my career as an artist I have always tried to connect with the
community where my work is made or exhibited. Often through art workshops alongside the exhibitions, or collaborating with local people to make the
work together. Growing up I didn’t really have access to art studios, galleries or museums, as in, I never really thought those places were for kids like me. Going to art school opened up a whole new world of possibilities, so it’s really important to me to encourage the arts in less advantaged communities.

commonclay_studio2My son’s school has stopped providing art and music classes, and art in schools is
slowly disappearing from the curriculum. I want to continue to encourage young people and adults to try creative processes as a way of learning about the world and themselves, so alongside the artist membership set-up at the studio, I’ll be running regular after-school clubs for local children and connecting with local schools.

What are your aspirations for the studio and are there any plans to expand?

At the moment I am concentrating on making the studio sustainable but in the future I would like to expand and make space for more artists and larger class groups. I am also planning to apply for Arts Council funding for an artist residency project for next year and some collaborations.

Studio Membership costs £90 per month and must be paid in advance (minimum of 2 months).        

The membership includes 10 hours of studio time per week (Wed-Sat) and provides access to all of the studios facilities, tools and equipment, shelf space and kiln firing service (1 firing per month).

For more information or to get in touch with Carla, visit or you can find her on Instagram: 


Posted 17:28 Friday, Sep 21, 2018 In: Community Arts

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