Meeting with ceramist Leyla Sadeghi in her studio in Tangier

It was a sunny day in Tangier. Senja and I went out to meet Leyla Sadeghi, a famous ceramic artist whose studio is located in a residential part of the city. We walked for more than half an hour through parts of the city that reminded us, each for a little bit, of another city. We had fun watching people on the streets, abandoned old houses leaning against new buildings, arguing with drivers who don’t stop at the crossing, nor slow down… We even found another Villa Mabrouka (with the same name as the hotel, i.e. the former house of YSL), an old dilapidated villa in yellow shades waiting to be picked up by an excavator.

Then we saw a house with a high fence and her name made on a ceramic board in pastel colours with pebbles. When she opened the door, I thought I had seen her somewhere before, her voice was somehow familiar to me. A big smile and eyes that look forward to new experiences. Her studio and everything she creates looks like her, has her energy, the nuances of her voice. This is the first time I see ceramic objects that clearly show that they are made by a special female hand, sensual and imaginative.

Leyla is from Iran and she lived in several countries. Before coming to Tangier with her family 5 years ago, she lived in China and Spain. She was searching for a perfect home in Tangier for months, a house where she will work and live, and which will have exactly what she needs: peace, free space, nature knocking on the windows from all sides, a large yard full of different plants. Also, the proximity of the school for her sons and everything else that is needed for an easier organisation of life.

Tangier is a city that loves people like she is. A city that unites, appropriates, creates new dimensions of friendship, where you respect differences and even more similarities between people from so many different cultures in one place.

I would say that we and the Iranians are surprisingly similar: in courage, emotionality, freedom, feeling of belonging where we feel good and not where we were born, circumstances in which we grew up, social contexts.

“Inspiration is everywhere. Nature is the greatest source of energy. Everything you look at can be a message. You can do whatever you want with ceramics, there are no limits”.

Sometimes she spends the whole day in the studio. Cactus, stones, leaves…wild flowers from the garden, birds and insects that make concerts all around throughout the year. At some point, all of that becomes part of her research, play, and ultimately creation in the form of ceramics.

She made us tea and served it in glass cups with rose petals floating in it…and homemade cookies with walnuts and almonds in a vintage glass bowl.

Her ceramics are intimate, gentle and decorative, and at the same time practical. The most beautiful part of the atmosphere is Leyla. We fell in love with her immediately, everything is so light and sweet with her.

I imagine her working, trying new shapes, playing. I hear nature talking to her as she creates. Maybe even let a little bird in…

She proposed to show us the other part of the house, where she lives with her family. She opened the door to the intimate parts of herself. She introduced us to her sons, told us about her life, memories and furniture that she brought from various countries where she lived.

Once she moves to the new country, new home, she starts all over again with new ceramic pieces, created and inspired by the moment.

The colour palette of the ceramics is like in her yard, wide palettes of green, blue, pastel, light…Trays, plates, spoons, bowls in all sizes and shapes, teapots, cups. Tagine is the main dish in Morocco (the name for the dish, but also for the terracotta baking dish). And here she is really playful, she makes insanely fun tagines for fish or vegetables (lids with leaf-like details, all made of ceramics).

Once we crossed at the large roof terrace, we bumped to the packed sails. Huge sky and city view. This wonderful woman took us to so many beautiful places with her story. We are finishing our meeting today with the story about the summer and sailing trips to Spain. The whole family sails. And here, in this magic, Senja and I are chasing the same wind with them. A group portrait and an unforgettable memory.

We brought home a greenish ceramic lemon strainer that Leyla patented and gave to Senja. On my desk are blue teacups with lids on which red cactus stand proudly.

We will see you someday on another sea, thank you for everything dear Leyla.



Photo Senja Vild @senjamafn

The characters and events in this story are partly fictitious. Any apparent similarity to real persons or events is intended by the author and is either a coincidence or the product of your own troubled imagination.

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Nataša Nikodijević Savin
Curated by Nataša

Producer (by degree and DNA structure).
A creative leader in business.
Entrepreneur. An artist. Curator and narrator.
Multitasking talent. Improviser. The inventor.



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