Gatagara pottery is in a class of it's own in Rwanda. On this visit, you'll get to see and practice the techniques local artisans use to create the unique pieces easily recognized throughout the country. The pottery cooperative is made up of 13 people, who are in charge of every aspect of the pottery, including making the clay they work with from resources they harvest from local swamps and hillsides, and firing their finished pieces.
This is a 1.5 hour visit with a very flexible schedule. Gatagara Pottery is open from 9am - 12pm, then again from 1pm to 5pm. Arrive any time you'd like! In addition to the experience, you can purchase pottery direct from the Gatagara shop. Enjoy!
"Our pottery technique has been largely unchanged since the late 1970’s when the cooperative was first established with the help of a Belgian ceramist."
There are today 12 artisans and one accountant making up the pottery cooperative. One of them, Louis, has been there since the very beginning. Since pottery is the Batwa’s main occupation – a minority group in Rwanda that constitutes less than 1% of the population – and Louis is a Batwa, the skills of pottery-making have been transmitted to him by his family and community since his young age.
Initially, there were 17 local potters working at the cooperative before the genocide. Only Louis remained and decided to become a teacher, sharing his skills and expertise to fellow members in his community who were interested in the art of pottery-making.
The clay that they use is locally made as they have all the resources they need around them, both on the hills and in the swamps. The only difference is in terms of coloring and finishing; hues are imported from abroad, mainly Belgium. They ceramics are very high quality and you'll find them for sale at boutique shops Rwanda and abroad.
The pottery group was started in the late 1970s from a collaboration between local potters and a Belgian potter. The technique has remained largely unchanged, but the unique coloring and finishing of the piece is an evolution.
The group has seen some changes through the years, but the quality and authenticity of the product remains the same. Some of the pottery workers have 20-30 years of creating ceramic pieces.