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Almost four decades after David Ohannissian of Kutahya stopped ceramic making in Jerusalem, the Armenian Art Center was established by the Sandrouni brothers in 1983.

The years following the establishment of this institution and the Sandrouni ceramic workshop, were fruitful years of intensive research and study in the works of David Ohannissian, the father of the original Armenian ceramics of Jerusalem. Our dedicated work, whether in research of traditional methods and techniques or observing the Ohannissian masterpieces that decorate historic buildings in Jerusalem, set the course and the goals of the Sandrouni workshop. During the many years of labor of love, we stayed the course and continue to achieve our goals in restoring the uncompromised and high standards of originality to the Armenian ceramic tradition of Jerusalem.

Today, Jerusalem and the internet offer an endless variety of Armenian ceramics. Imitations of Armenian ceramics fill the markets in and outside Jerusalem. Most of those imitations are not made in Armenian workshops and don't even bear the signature of those who make them. Some Armenian workshops who claim seniority in the craft and originality, try to secure their share of sales in the market for Armenian ceramics by price compatibility, thus compromising quality. In the huge market for Armenian ceramics, we care that every piece produced in our small workshop, and bears our name, would be an original, one of a kind piece of Armenian ceramic, produced with the highest standards and careful quality control that would restore the grace and dignity to this centuries old art and craft. The tradition of Armenian ceramics is as old as the Armenian people. Like music, poetry, sculpture and dance, ceramics was another facet on the gem of Armenian culture, a culture so rich and colorful that was shaped by the vast challenges that faced a small nation. Armenian ceramics reached unprecedented levels of finesse and originality during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when many Armenian families operated workshops in Kutahya and Iznik, and contributed in decorating palaces and mansions in Turkey, Egypt and Jerusalem. The beginning of the twentieth century was the most critical and challenging to this ancient tradition. Thanks to the "Pro Jerusalem Society", and to the genius and vision of David Ohannissian of Kutahya, Armenian ceramics found its new home in Jerusalem, and its continuity was secured. The "Society" supported Ohannissian, the artist and master ceramist, in establishing Jerusalem's first Armenian ceramic workshop. The master found his apprentices and craftsmen, trained and employed scores of Armenians who arrived to Jerusalem after 1918, thus breaking all taboos that would make this art and craft sterile and unproductive by exclusively belonging to a specific geographic location or a certain family.

At the Armenian Art Center, and the Sandrouni workshop, we pride ourselves not only in bringing back the tradition of Armenian ceramics to its original course, and elevating the standards to such that a master like David Ohannissian would have liked to see, but also in being Jerusalem's only Armenian workshop that's open to the wide local diverse communities for training. We strongly believe that the continuity of this classical form, and its evolving originality can only be secured by this openness that brings in so many interesting artists and craftsmen, whose share and contribution to Armenian ceramics is indispensable and crucial, without which Armenian ceramics would be a sterile, unproductive, undeveloping and extinct ethnic craft.

-George (Kevork) Sandrouni

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