APRIL 2002 Contents
Business & Economy
at Every Alien Door'
Page 1 of 2
While the traditional potter is gradually slipping into the endangered list, a new breed of urban studio potters is re-casting the scenario in the most eloquent terms. Functioning from their individual studios these artists have not just up-held the traditional utility of these clay pots but have been instrumental in elevating this modest craft into an artistic pursuit, at par with painting and sculpture. Sardar Gurcharan Singh was the father of studio pottery movement in India.
Over the years, a sense of despair has overcome the traditional Indian kumhar (potter) who has been reeling under the crippling grip of power cuts, hounded by the anti-pollution laws for his coal-fired bhatti and burdened by a 12.5 per cent sales tax on the finished product. And as he abandons the profession to look for other avenues of earning, the ancient art of pottery has become a languishing craft, sorely in need of government intervention.
But while the traditional kumhars find themselves in this knotty predicament, a new breed of urban studio potters is re-casting the scenario in the most eloquent terms. Functioning from their individual studios these artists have not just up-held the traditional utility of clay pots but have been instrumental in elevating this modest craft into an artistic pursuit, at par with painting and sculpture.
These ‘clay’ artists have gained instant recognition for their innovative designs. They’ve crafted wall hangings and jewellery hitherto unknown in pottery. Their creations range from tiny plaques and coasters to large murals, which adorn the foyers of business houses.
This new batch of designers is quite unlike the traditional clan. Theirs is not a father-to-son learning process as they have acquired this skill from studio masters around the world. Be it Adil and Preeti Brar from Pondicherry or even the not-so-new Bani De Roy from Delhi, new and upcoming studio potters have given it a distinct new flavour and elevated it to an art form.
Recently, the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust organised an exhibition to commemorate the Birth Anniversary of the father of studio pottery movement in the country, Sardar Gurcharan Singh. The exhibition which is an annual affair brought together as many as 101 eminent studio potters from the country at the elite India Habitat Centre.
Studio potters like Bani De Royare backed by a decade-long education in ceramic pottery under the Japanese master, Shoji Hamada, the revered `man of clay'. When he passed away, she continued her training under his son. Another senior studio potter, Devi Prasad took his initial training under Nandalal Bose at Kala Bhavan, in Santiniketan and Gandhiji's Sevagram.
The art came to India during the renaissance brought about by Rabindranath Tagore at Santi Niketan and many of our now established studio potters have that background. Though most of the potters still follow the traditional European style, two distinct and different schools have emerged from India---Delhi Blue Pottery established by Sardar Gurcharan Singh and The Golden Bridge Pottery at Pondicherry started by Deborah Smith and Ray Meeker.
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