The Era of the Multi-Hyphened Professional: Bisila Noha

Q1: Who is Bisila Noha?

My name is Bisila Noha. I was born and raised in Spain and after having lived in Germany, Austria and the US, I moved to London in 2013 where I have remained ever since.

I am mixed race, half Spanish – half Equatorial Guinean, although I have recently started feeling that the black side of me was born in London, where I have become more aware of it, started celebrating it, and got involved with activism.


Q2: You work as a ceramicist but are also involved in different initiatives. Can you tell me tell me about the work you do?

As millennials would say, I am a multi-hyphened professional, that is, I do lots of different things.

I am a ceramicist: I have my own brand of functional and decorative ceramics. I am a pottery teacher and workshop facilitator. And I am one of the Directors of Lon-art, an arts and education-based organisation that aims to open a window into social awareness issues through visual art. We do this through museum tours, art workshops and social exhibitions.

Our flagship at Lon-art is a project called SHEROES – a collaborative initiative bringing together UK and international artists, feminist organisations, charities and the general public. SHEROES aims to use creative expression to give a voice to, and turn our eyes towards, silenced and overlooked heroines – sheroes – throughout herstory, and offer inspiring female role models for us all. Our next big project is Sheroes – Revoluciones (Spanish for Revolutions), with which we aim to create awareness about violence against women, from brutal acts to silent violence. Through this initiative we will pay tribute to collectives of women and individuals in the UK and globally who are trying to change the narrative and inspire a different future.

Here you can take a look at what happened at our first Sheroes exhibition in March 2018.

At Lon-art, apart from doing all the business management bits, I am also in charge of the production of all our events, which I love doing since I have a lot of experience in project management in the translation and advertising industries here in London.

I love being able to combine pottery and everything around it. Lon-art as it enables me to hone lots of different skills, meet lots of interesting people and be super active. The idea of having just one job, 9 to 5, kills me a little bit.

Q3: Tell me about your career path. How did you get to where you are today. How did you discover your passion / career?

I studied Translation and Interpreting and then a Masters in International Relations and Diplomacy. This is where I would say my interest in languages, different cultures and politics comes from.

One of the reasons I moved to London was to explore my creative side a bit more. I felt it was the right place – before moving I came a couple of times to see friends and family and I could feel that energy. And I was totally right. The first three to four years in London, I worked in translation and advertising agencies doing project and account management and I started going to pottery classes in the evening.

About two and a half years ago, I got to some sort of stall at work as I wasn’t able to progress as I wanted. Besides, it was the longest I had lived in the same place since I left home when I was 18 years old, so I started getting fidgety. And to top it all, I was completely smitten with pottery. Eventually, I decided to quit my job, go travelling for six months, and learn more about ceramics while travelling.

“I feel very fortunate that things have gone so well, so fast and so naturally. It definitely feels like it was meant to be!”

I did a residency in Italy, worked as an apprentice in Madrid and went to Oaxaca in Mexico to volunteer at a local organisation that works with local potters to keep their tradition alive. During those six months, I started selling the pots I had made in Italy and getting orders and commissions. Thus, once back in London, now two years ago, I had to start making and since then I have been super busy. I feel very fortunate that things have gone so well, so fast and so naturally. It definitely feels like it was meant to be!

And well, all along, I was part of Lon-art. I met María, who is also a Director, years before when I was in Vienna and when I moved to London I started getting involved. The project is just so beautiful and inspiring. It certainly is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. At Lon-art I have learnt about art, history, social issues, I have been able to develop a ton of skills and interests, made friends, and I get the feeling that the work we do – however small – really is contributing to make society a better place.

Q4: Who or what is your source of inspiration? How does this (or this person) inspire you?

I am very lucky to have a very inspiring family. My parents and my siblings (8 and 10 years older than me) are all entrepreneurs, so I have grown up seeing them doing their thing, being very bold and driven. All of them had done things that maybe were frowned upon, or considered crazy, but they went for it. We always joke about the ‘Noha gene’, since we are a bunch of go-get it, focused, super dedicated and hard-working people.

“The biggest challenge so far has been to deal with my own self.”

Q5: What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in your chosen profession and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge so far has been to deal with my own self. That ‘Noha gene’ I was just talking about is a double-edged sword when you are your own boss. The last two years I have been way too demanding and harsh with myself, which ended up in me being totally burnt out by Christmas last year.

So now I am learning to manage myself, to cut myself a bit of slack and also appreciate and recognise my achievements. When you are always on the go, wanting to do more and more things and always questioning what’s next, you forget or don’t have time to stop, look back and value the work done.

Q6: What are you most proud of?

I am very proud of being where I am today. I don’t regret anything I have done yet, so let’s see how things develop…

Q7: What three tips would you have liked to receive during your childhood that you would share with any young person out there following a similar career path?

That there needs to be a balance between discipline and chaos. As well as between work and play. And that above all we need to equally love our minds and our bodies, since we need them both to properly function and be happy.

“We need to equally love our minds and our bodies”

Q8: What does it mean to send money home and / or invest in your ‘home’ community?

My investment in my community is through empowerment and by giving it visibility with the work we do at Lon-art. For me it is crucial and fills me with hope and joy to see my community feeling empowered, united and having a voice in a white patriarchal society.

Q9: What is your life mantra?

You cannot be what you cannot see.

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