Afghan Pottery Pop Up in Great Barrington

For Immediate Release:

Afghan Pottery Demonstration and Pop Up
Saturday, December 16th, 2-5pm
Bon Dimanche, 32 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, MA

A live wheel throwing demonstration and slideshow by a 7th generation potter from Afghanistan who has recently found Asylum in the US. Free admission.


Media Contact:

17 years ago, Molly de St André, co-owner of Bon Dimanche, a new boutique store and studio on Railroad Street in Great Barrington, left the US to work with an NGO called Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul Afghanistan (TMF). TMF’s mission was to revive the traditional arts and architecture of Afghanistan. A Ceramic artist, de St André was hired to focus on Afghan pottery, a unique style of functional ceramic art, glazed with bold blues and turquoises, and decorated with geometric patterns incised by hand onto the surface of the forms. “The pottery was breathtakingly beautiful, with tall, striking vases, and large open bowls. The colors were stunning, but the glazes chipped away easily and the clays were weak and brittle.” Says de St André. “My job was to work out how to change the chemistry of the glazes and clay bodies to make the product stronger and thus salable on an international market.” Turquoise Mountain Foundation was hoping to help revitalize Afghan tradition craft in order make it sellable on a large scale, and thus bring needed revenue into Afghanistan.

De St André spent two years working in Kabul with Turquoise Mountain Foundation and a year into her time there, her now husband, Aurelien de St André was hired as the foundation’s graphic designer. The two maintain that their time in Kabul was the most exciting and productive time of their lives. De St André worked closely with a family of potters, the sons of the head of Istalif, Afghanistan’s premiere pottery village which is outside of Kabul. They were the seventh generation of potters who had lived in Istalif and had subsisted on the sale of their work for more than 200 years. ”The youngest of the sons, a 20 year old potter named MatinMalikzada, stood out to me. He was extremely motivated, positive and incredibly talented.” Says de St André. He went on to work with the organization and rise in position, teaching pottery to many of Afghanistan’s young generation of artists.

In early August Molly and Aurelien de St André opened a store and studio space on Railroad Street in Great Barrington. The store houses their long standing local businesses: Petit Pilou, hand-printed organic children’s clothing, Berkshire Four Poster, original Berkshire themed prints and posters, and Moho Designs, a graphic design firm that works with local businesses. “Just before the opening of the store, we read an article in a local newspaper about an Afghan potter coming to showcase his work at the Butternut Summer Arts Festival.” Says Aurélien de St André. “Looking at the picture, we could not believe our eyes! It was Matin, our dear friend from Istalif from many years before.” Malikzada, his wife and four children were granted US visas 18 months ago, after the Taliban retook Afghanistan. “My life was destroyed completely for the second time when the Taliban took power again.” Malikzada says. “And my American colleagues helped us out of Afghanistan and suggested Connecticut as a place for my family to live.” Malikzada and his family are in the process of seeking asylum. He has established his pottery in the US with the help of a number of committed volunteers who have helped him navigate all facets of the system. He is now showing his work in stores, national galleries and museums, and at artist markets around the northeast. Molly and Aurelien de St André have also reunited with their old friend and are currently selling his work at Bon Dimanche. This coming Saturday December 16th from 2-5pm Malikzada will be onsite with his pottery wheel to do a live demonstration and a slide show of his work and its history. He will have an expanded collection of his pottery for sale and be available for questions and discussion.


Leave A Comment

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Go to Top