Situated at the top end of Horsforth’s thriving Town Street, Firefly Pottery has brought a crafty edge to the local area. From clay hand building, to pottery painting and getting behind the iconic pottery wheel, this is an arts venue that truly breathes a ‘hands-on’ ethos.
UnSUBURBIA caught up with Firefly’s Vicky Iball to get her thoughts on why artistic initiatives play a huge role in promoting a community feel.
Q: How did the concept for Firefly Pottery come about?
I studied for a fine art degree before entering a career in sales and national project management. Then I had children which forced a rethink, so I started my own business – but it wasn’t until I fell ill in 2012 that I had time to really stop and think about life. I realised that it was creativity I craved and getting back to my passion for art was what I needed.
18 months later, I’d recovered. I have loved ceramics since I was a kid pit-firing in the garden, and the market was there, with no one offering what I could in Leeds. So in 2014, a pottery it was!
Q: What made you choose Horsforth as your location to set up?
I have lived in Horsforth for 24 years and I already had lots of community links through my infant massage business, my son’s schools and activities, and through my connections in and around the local area. I have vested interest in Horsforth and providing a positive impact on the community is important to me.
Q: What tends to be your most popular workshop and course?
Our delivery is such a varied one – the pottery wheel, clay hand building and pottery painting are all popular, but our customer base is so diverse that no one thing appeals over another. Our monthly Clay Experience Course is usually full, our school workshops are great fun and popular, and the once-a-month Ladies’ Night for pottery painting is often a sell-out!
Q: How important do you think it is for children to have access to arts and craft amenities and facilities, such as Firefly?
I think it is becoming more critical than ever that we provide the opportunity for non-outcome driven creative development. At Firefly we encourage play, mindfulness and the opportunity to see the value of experimentation and mistakes.
We are a place where mess is a part of process, where kinaesthetic play is all. Creativity is being squeezed out of the curriculum and many children, parents and schools crave more time for it.
Q: Have you seen a rise in popularity of people wanting to embrace arts and crafts and try their hands at something new?
Yes, without a doubt. We have more people looking for ‘doing’ gifts – seeing more value in giving experiences, than having ‘things’. People seem more open to have a go! The wheel particularly is often on the bucket list!
I think people appreciate the switch off they can get from creativity and the joy of process, and there is also a greater awareness of the positive impact creativity has on your brain.
Q: How important do you think having access to local initiatives and arts spaces promoting social interaction and engagement is?
Really important. Lots of people come to Firefly on their own, they have the company of our team and the opportunity to meet like-minded folk. Within workshops, corporate events and children’s holiday clubs for example, we find that creating together provides the opportunity for shared experience and the opportunity for positive interaction. Art is a great leveller, accessible for all – age or ability have no bearing and that’s what makes it great.
Q: Do you feel local businesses, such as Firefly Pottery, are key to helping build local communities?
A high street provides a heart to a community and the more independent shops there are, the more inclusive events there will be. Firefly gives both time and financial support to Horsforth community events and organisations, and our links in Horsforth are strong.
Many of our customers have become our friends and have met other friends through us. It’s also the little things, the little chats and cups of tea we have with older folk walking past that feel the need, the friendships developed within our team and with our shop neighbours. It all helps make a community tick.
Q: If you could give advice to anyone who wants to become more involved with arts and crafts, what would you tell them?
Do it! it’s not something you will ever regret, and chances are you will find your new favourite thing!
Q: What’s next on the agenda for Firefly Pottery?
Exciting times for us, we are currently working with SCOPE to increase our knowledge and inclusivity. The fantastic ‘Horsforth Walk of Art’ is nearly upon us – on July 6 and 7, Firefly buzzes with free workshops for the weekend. Two new potters have joined our team, so we are getting bigger and working to be better, it’s all about the mud fun!
Location: 116 Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 4AH
Mon – Tuesday – close
Weds to Fri – 10am-5pm
Sat to Sun – 10am-4pm
For more information, visit: http://fireflypottery.co.uk/