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I want to setup a pottery teaching studio in Port Vila, Vanuatu for unemployed youth and schools. Please help me to help others.


My name is Brent Malessas. I live in Port Vila, Vanuatu. For the past 2 years I have been learning pottery and now want to teach others. I need a studio of my own to make this happen.

I was born in 1990 on the island of Malekula and have 4 brothers and 1 sister. My mum and dad moved to Port Vila, Efate when I was very young hoping to earn some money to send us to school. My brothers and I were lucky enough to have had some schooling but my sister didn’t because my parents could not afford it. I still live with my parents in a squatter’s village in Malapoa, Port Vila. I’ve improved my education by borrowing money to do some businesses courses at the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce. Even so I have never managed to find work as there are so many young unemployed people here. Vanuatu is a developing country made up of 83 islands with over 70% of the population under 30 years of age with a life expectancy of 63.61 years. The Adult literacy rate (% aged 15 and older) is 22.7%. I am one of the more fortunate ones who can read and write both French and English. (Source: UNDP, UN DESA, UNICEF, CIA World Factbook)

In February 2012, David Sherar with the help of his wife Margaret, decided to give something back to Vanuatu and the unemployed youth. David set up a pottery school at a NGO youth centre in Port Vila called Wan Smol Bag. David and Margaret supplied all the equipment, materials and construction for the studio. David then started to teach the unemployed youth pottery.

In June 2012 I was fortunate to hear about this white man teaching pottery and thought I would like try it to see if it was something I could do and maybe even make some money. David was a good teacher and I quickly realised I enjoyed making pots and wanted to learn as much as I could.

A potter lady from New Zealand came to the studio one day and saw what I was doing and was so impressed she offered to look after me at her home for 4 weeks in Napier, NZ. In January 2013 WSB and AusAID paid for me to travel to New Zealand for a month’s work experience potting in a number of different studios in Napier and surrounding areas. I was really scared as I had never been on a plane or even out of Vanuatu before but David came with me and stayed for the first week to make sure I was settled.

On my return from New Zealand I knew that I wanted to be a potter and that I had to somehow establish my own studio. David then kindly offered me the use of his home studio, pottery equipment and all his materials at no cost.

David and Margaret have also given me a lot of business management advice. I am very sad that they will be leaving Vanuatu. I know they both want me to continue my own personal development. I want to set up a pottery teaching school where I can share what they have taught me. My wish is to offer a place where local schools can send their students for a special ½ day class, school holiday activities and where other unemployed youth can develop their artistic talents with clay.

Here is a documentary about me that was made by Vanuatu's TV station and shown across Vanuatu.

Current happenings:

On 14th August 2014 I was requested to show and demonstrate my talents at the 2014 Micro Finance Trade Fair on the sea front in Port Vila. My tent was always full with people watching and they were amazed at what was being made here in Vanuatu and at the quality of my work. I am now testing and formulating a mix of local clay so all of my work will be fully local product.

PERSONAL ENDORSEMENT by David Sherar, Malapoa, Vanuatu

Over the last 2 years I have been teaching Brent pottery. During this time, he has mastered mixing clay, hand and wheel work pottery-making, weighing out and mixing all the different chemicals to make the various colour glazes, glazing finished pots, lighting the gas kiln and controlling firings for up to 11 hours allowing the kiln to reach 1300°c creating oven and dishwasher proof stoneware pottery.

He is an extremely talented quietly-spoken man whose enthusiasm and love for pottery drives him to further his knowledge in the art of pottery. His heart and desire are honourable and from our conversations I can see he wants to pass on what he has learnt. I have donated my entire home studio equipment, tools, clay and glazes to him all of which will be moved to his new studio once built. Apart from the building he will still need additional equipment for teaching so hopefully we will have enough funds over to purchase second-hand wheels and other supplies.

I am asking for your help to bring a young man’s wishes to reality. I’m 66 years old and not in good health due to a recent heart attack. I’ve lived in Vanuatu for 10 years but need to move to New Zealand for medical reasons.

Please help Brent to achieve his new studio so he can offer other unemployed youth a start in life and also to be able to give school children the experience of working with clay. Locally we have so far raised over $6,800 but we urgently need a further $17,200 to start building.

Please give generously. Just a $5 donation will mean more to Brent’s future than the cup of coffee you may be forgoing!


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Latest update

Update for 05/10/2014  5 October 2014

I've added a photo of Brent's latest work which are waiting to dry for a bisque firing. Mostly the pieces are to put in stock ready for the December Craft Show and his Xmas Sale display at the French Cultural Centre. Last week he has been helping out at Wan Smol Bag Pottery Studio mixing new batches of glazes and helping the tutor Henry with teaching some of the unemployed youths who are in the pottery class.

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Latest donations

Kerryn Wilkinson
Kerryn Wilkinson on 13 Nov 2014
Best of luck Brent. Keep up the amazing work :)
Gaelle Meheut
Gaelle Meheut on 11 Nov 2014
Keep on the good and creative work Brent :) !! Thanks David for taking care of that !
Coaching by Design Ltd
Coaching by Design Ltd on 28 Oct 2014
keep smiling and keep up the great work
Guest Donor
Guest Donor on 28 Oct 2014
Barbara and Dennis
Barbara and Dennis on 28 Oct 2014
Wishing you all the best from a couple of Vanuatu fanatics :)

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This page was created on 1 Oct 2014 and closed on 31 Dec 2014.