The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Iceland continues to support the development of the Lettie Stuart Pottery Centre (LSP) and their work in Sierra Leone with a new funding allocation. It is the second time that Aurora has received funding from the Icelandic MFA to support the development of the LSP. The previous project was concluded last year when the first steps in making the pottery center sustainable were developed. The new project focuses on more technical issues and advancing the production capacity with more mechanical and less physical effort for the potters.
Aurora has been supporting and developing the Pottery Centre, located in Waterloo just outside of Freetown, over the past few years. The owner of the Center are Sierra Leone Adult Education Association (SLADEA), and recently a new agreement was signed between Aurora and SLADEA, formalizing collaboration for the next five years.
A variety of activities take place at the Centre, apart from the making of ceramic products and designer goods. Visitors can participate in workshops on weekends and purchase tableware and other goods made by the potters employed by LSP. An 18-month pottery training course has also been offered, which is being processed by the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Education to be accredited as a certified diploma. Steady progress has been made since the earlier funding was received, and work on the consequent project has started.
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a delay in the delivery of machines needed to lift a heavy physical burden off the potters’ shoulders. The machinery is a crucial part in modernizing the production process, but besides that, the funding also enables the Centre to continue to work with experienced external potters with whom they have collaborated before, to research various clay reservoirs, and to empower the employees in other ways; all aiming for a sustainable and independent, employment enhancing Centre that, in the foreseeable future, can operate on its own without any third-party intervention.
Unemployment rates are very high in Sierra Leone, especially among young people and have increased with the pandemic. The Lettie Stuart Pottery Centre is a tool to combat unemployment, educate and train people, and conserve cultural and artisanal knowledge. The pottery Centre has already had a positive influence on the local economy and attracted considerable attention in the country. Not many pottery Centres in Africa can wood-fire their ceramic products at such a high temperature. Together with the local people’s knowledge, it makes the LSP Centre a unique one. All the products are handmade, and from local resources, and with increasing demands for fair-trade and sustainable products, global marketing opportunities are on the rise.
The aim is to make LSP an independent Centre that can continue training young people, especially young women, to make ceramic products to combat the unemployment in Sierra Leone. Supporting LSP contributes to diversifying the country’s industry, creating opportunities in creative industries, the arts for young people, and helping them become independent young people.
Further information on the collaboration between Aurora and SLADEA on the pottery Centre’s development can be found here.