Dad was very strict and meticulous! While he employed other potters to work for him, most of them never lasted due to his perfectionist nature. Of all the children, I am the only one who persevered and continues to make hand made pottery combining traditional and modern techniques
I grew up with natural mud; I sat in mud, played in mud, slept in a mud house, my family cooked in mud. My grandmother and father made mud into pottery — for family use, retail and wholesale — in Kampala, Uganda. My father paid for my schooling through selling his handmade pottery. He did a lot of slip casting, mainly of casserole dishes, teapots, teacups and saucers. We helped him by digging clay with hand hoes and shovels, carrying it on our heads and processing it manually. When the well-known and influential potters, Michael Cardew and Michael Leach, established a ceramics school at Kyombogo National Institute of Arts in Kampala in the late 1930s, my father was one of their first students. He used to tell us that he was the best student, so they decided to support him to establish our family pottery outside of Kampala (Busega Pottery).
I first saw an electric potter’s wheel when I came to Australia. At Busega pottery, we used kick wheels and standing two-person manual wheels. The standing wheels required two skilled people: one who turned the wheel at varying speeds while the potter made pots. While my grandmother used to fire all her hand built pottery using the traditional method in the pit, my father fired using recycled oil, mainly from trucks, and it wasn’t unusual to find all the kids covered in oil as everyone had to help with jobs around the home.
I have been in Australia for almost 30 years after receiving a study scholarship to study Art at the National College of Arts in Sydney. I had an incredible opportunity to work with well-known potters in Australia and New Zealand for several years. Some have remained close friends. Ten years ago I founded Kalapata Children’s Charity to provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged children in Eastern Uganda from a small community where I was born.
All the proceeds I derive from selling my pottery is 100% donated to Kalapata children’s Charity.