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Saran Pots: Pottery With Heritage and History

Saran Pots in the process!

Amidst Saudi Arabia’s growing art scene, many forms of arts are making a stance, giving the young people of Saudi amazing opportunities to showcase their many different talents.

As the art spaces in Saudi increase in number, the artists as well are building confidence and working on their skills to be able to give a taste of their world to the community. Scouring through the many talents, Pottery, an art form that has to do with ceramics and clay, has been seizing the Saudi art scene and we had the privilege to to speak to a brilliant young potter who recently introduced her startup to the people of Jeddah. Dedicated to sharing her and her colleagues’ expertise in pottery and potential upcoming art forms, we at Destination had the chance to look into the world of this young potter and how her Pottery brand, Saran Pots, came to be. 

This creative brand, that started off with a deep rooted story of a female exploring the world of pottery and its connection with her heritage, is now something special and of deep value. Sudanese British potter Roua Ali, who grew up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, first started her exciting, artistic journey in 2020 when she tried out a course with her mother and siblings. 

Studied Graphic Design at the University of Art in London, Roua’s story began in the university’s ceramics studio where she started taking lessons from the technicians there and was later introduced to a community of ingenious potters from Oxford University who consisted of many different people of various backgrounds and skills.  

Her newfound passion grew when asked about traditional Sudanese pottery and how rich the whole culture is in pottery as a whole. Curious and intrigued, Roua took it upon herself to learn more about this beautiful aspect of her culture, and proceeded to dig deep and grasp that part of her heritage fully, which led her to not only take multiple short courses but her final year’s dissertation ended up being on the History of Pottery in Sudan. 

She then progressed to speak more about traditional Sudanese pottery and how it’s different to traditional Japanese pottery, which was the type primarily used at Oxford University. “While traditional Japanese pottery involves three days of continuous burning and you have to feed the kiln wood, where the ashes of the wood melt to create a layer of glaze for the pieces put into the kiln, Sudanese pottery mainly involves firing a pit. They’d dig a hole and cover it with grass and fire it with the pieces inside”.

Throughout the learning process, Roua made sure to document and share her idiosyncratic experiences and creations through her Instagram page ‘Saran Pots’, a name that was inspired by her family’s last name. When asked about the significance behind the name Saran, Roua replied with, “It is my last name but it’s not written in my legal documents, and for some reason all my family members have Saran as their last name in their passports, except my family. So I wanted it to be out there in some way and as a reminder of where I truly come from and also because it’s what sparked my passion for pottery as a whole”. 

Following how her heritage plays a huge role in her work, Roua adds “my pottery is more inspired by traditional African pots. I make pots that are more rounded and curvy. It is my heritage that mainly inspired my pottery”. 

As we delve deeper into the pottery scene, Saran Pots gave us an exclusive insight on the tedious yet interesting process that goes behind creating each pot and piece. With different individuals on the team, each has something unique to add on to the table and each of their skills are just as equally required. “When it comes to preparing clay, it’s different when you’re preparing it for yourself and for a hundred people. The process starts off with an operation named wedging, where you essentially knead the clay, a lot like dough, in order to get rid of any air bubbles and bring it to a consistency that is easy to work with. It’s a tedious process, where we use up to 50KGs of clay, which is then put into the wedger and finally comes out as a log”, inquired Roua. 

In terms of what challenges she has faced throughout her venture as a potter, she shared, “Even though it’s fun, I think the main challenge that every potter faces is making pieces and then breaking or not coming out exactly the way they expected it to. This is just a known thing in the pottery world, that you can’t be attached to any of your pieces, because literally at any stage something unexpected can happen. Also, explaining this part of the process to customers is the hardest, because it’s not what they expected, and it may discourage them”. 

A personal message from the talented potter to aspiring potters or individuals looking into starting this art form, “be patient and don’t be hard on yourself. It’s an art form that takes loads of practice and there’s always more that you can learn; different techniques, different skills, so don’t get discouraged. Just keep practicing”.

A look into the brand and what more we can expect from Saran Pots, the potter mentioned, “looking into the future, we want to have a stable location and also be doing workshops with establishments and schools, and to be one of the known activities within Saudi Arabia. We also want to expand to other cities and hopefully be able to grasp an opportunity to visit Riyadh Season soon.  As for now, our next plan involves opening a shop on the ground floor of Red Sea Mall in Jeddah. We will definitely be introducing new activities, so if everyone was enjoying Saran Pots up till now, just wait till you see what we have planned next”.



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