THE STORY OF DALSTON CLAY
by its founder, Barnaby Hosking
Dalston Clay became manifest from a combination of three factors: a response to the lack of affordable art studios in London, a desire to combine art with wellbeing practices and a vision to make both more inclusive, social and available to everyone.
Having provided affordable artist studios on Ridley Road Market in Dalston, East London for 15 years, myself, along with 85 other creatives, were evicted from our studio block in the spring of 2022. Faced with the prospect of paying double the price for a wholly unsuitable desk space, many of us have not found another studio in London.
As our inevitable eviction loomed over us, I was forced to reflect on the aspects of being an artist that I valued most and what were most important to take with me after our departure. As my own interest and involvement in the contemporary art world continued to recede, I began to move closer to the concerns that my work exhibited previously at art school: a focus more on art as process rather than commodity. This allowed for my meditation and yoga practice to feel like part of, rather than separate from, my art practice. Concurrent to this, I began to notice how the culture outside the art world seemed to move more freely between for example a yoga or meditation session and a pottery or art class, without necessarily seeing a hierarchical divide; one that appears only to serve to the keep art at a higher status for the economic ends of the art world.
Dalston had been my home and place of work for 20 years and I was adamant not to allow gentrification to push me out after our eviction, so I teamed up with long-time friend and psychologist Josh Dickson to find a premises that we could both use for our respective interests:
I with my vision to combine art and wellbeing activities and Josh with his company Resurface that offers retreats combining surfing with therapy. Originally known as Flow Space, so far the premises have been host to 15 day retreats hosted by Josh and I, meditation courses, drawing and painting classes and a regular yoga schedule. In early December 2022, I took the opportunity to build a ceramic studio that swiftly transforms into a space for yoga and meditation. With our reopening in April 2023 as Dalston Clay, I feel that I am on a journey at once forced upon me through circumstance but one that continues to follow a natural path towards community and wellbeing.
Clay is the dominant medium in my art practice. Clay embodies the aspects that I value most about art and being an artist; A pre-occupation with form and materiality; our essential shared connection to the earth; the cultural connection to each other through art and utility; the fun that is had in bringing people together; the sharing of studio space and equipment, and the myriad techniques afforded by ceramics practice. Dalston Clay builds and strengthens our community through offering a place to explore these social and healing benefits of working with clay.