The village’s famous pottery school was founded by Swiss potter Évelyne Porret, who brought the craft of pottery to Tunis when she settled here with her husband Michel Pastore in the early 1980s. Encouraged by the Department of Social Affairs, she started the school in 1986 to teach pottery to young children. Her vision was inspired by the work of Ramses Wissa Wassef, who believed that every human being is born an artist if given a chance to develop their innate gifts and creativity through the practice of a craft from a young age.
The school’s style of pottery draws upon ancient islamic art as well as scenes from daily village life (e.g. palm trees, dunkeys, cows, camels). It teaches children the craft of pottery while encouraging them to express their creativity in their own unique way.
Over the last thirty years, artists, painters, writers, journalists and others from Cairo and elsewhere, have built mudbrick houses in the village as well as an Art Center, which all contribute to Tunis’ lively artistic feel. Today, the village counts a school, ten pottery studios, and hosts an annual pottery festival.
Nearly all local potters learned and later taught at the pottery school. The school currently employs a dozen senior students between 20 and 35 year old who are training a dozen junior students between 10 and 15 year old. Students produce the pottery which is sold in the store, and they earn a percentage of the proceeds. Younger students attend pottery school during week ends and work an average of six hours a day. The school also runs a 3-month long summer program for village youth, giving them an opportunity to learn pottery while earning a little bit of income.
Tunis village currently counts ten pottery ateliers, most of which were started by graduates of the local pottery school. Tunis potters include: