Deborah Smith was graduated in Japanese language from Stanford University in 1966, and subsequently spent two years in Japan. She studied pottery with Araki Takako in Nishinomiya, and later was apprenticed for one year to master potter Yamamoto Toshu of Bizen. Returning to her native Los Angeles for a year of graduate study at USC, she met fellow Californian Ray Meeker in the ceramics department in 1969. The following year, on her way to India, she spent three months in Mashiko, Japan, as translator and companion to Susan Peterson during Peterson’s research of her book on Hamada Shoji. Since December 1970 Deborah Smith has resided in Pondicherry, on India’s southeastern coast, where she manages the Golden Bridge Pottery, which she founded, with Ray Meeker, in 1971.
Mansimran Singh learnt pottery from his father, late Sardar Gurcharan Singh at Delhi Blue Art Pottery, 1956-59. He then went to England to train under Bernard Leach and Geoffrey Whiting. In 1960, he was invited to the Berlin Arts Festival and the 500th anniversary of the Dresden Art Gallery. He visited the Meissen’s porcelain factory and also went to Vellauries, France, where Picasso made his distinctive ceramics. His first solo show was held in Jaipur in 1961, followed by exhibitions in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai. In 1966 he showed at the Commonwealth Institute, London. In 1976, he helped set up the pottery studio at Garhi. In late 1985 he moved to Andretta in Himachal Pradesh where he set up a pottery and crafts society and marketing center with support from the Handicrafts Board. Earlier in 1985, he went with his wife, potter Mary Singh to the UK on a British Council grant, visiting British potters working in glazed earthenware. This led to the shift from high-fired stoneware pottery to low-fired earthenware or red clay work at Andretta, a thriving pottery centre. A managing trustee of Delhi Blue Pottery Trust, Mansimran Singh continues to be active in the teaching and promotion of pottery.
Mansimran Singh lives and works in Andretta, Himachal Pradesh.
Ashis and Christiane Janah who started their small-scale art production, Vallauris, in 1956 with local craftsmen in Calcutta's Beliaghata, using the firing facilities at the Bengal Institute of Ceramics. Known as Janah Pottery, it was the earliest form of studio pottery in Calcutta, easily recogniz-able for its tin earthenware glaze on the red terracotta clay using traditional as well as semi-industrial pottery-making methods (figure 10). Brussels-born Christiane first came to India on a hitchhiking world trip and found her Indian soul. Ashis's work was mainly slabbuilt and Christiane's was mainly thrown and altered. They were inspired by the Bengal terracotta temple reliefs as well as Cambodia's Angkor Wat, and used the designs on their range of hotel tableware. Ashis set up and worked for the company Raj niklal as works manager for a few years while they were struggling to get Vallauris going.
The Janahs were also inspired by Beatrice Wood, an American ceramic artist linked to the Dada Movement and Theosophy, who was a close associate of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay of the All India Handicrafts Board, and of J. Krishnamurti. (10) They somehow continued production through the early 1970s Naxal Movement in Calcutta despite violence on the streets, and famous artists like Laxman Pai, Paritosh Sen and Sarbari Roy Chowdhury worked with them doing murals and experimenting with clay and mixed media. They were members of the Indian Ceramic and Glass Association and started a Studio Potters Association in the '60s.
The legacy of these artists is the slow blurring of the boundaries between the distinctions of "high" art and "craft" in the country where the ceramic medium and their protagonists are finally being acknowledged at a national level, though there are complex relations between the two even today. There is more of a reciprocal relationship between the hereditary craftsman and the contemporary ceramic artist where the craft has transformed alongside and in response to the market, new technologies and the influence of artschool graduates in "white cube" display spaces. The grand artisanal traditions need to be seen as not immovably fixed at some historical point decided on by critics and craft activists, but as traditions whose reimagining in the post-modern era will expand the possibilities of the persistent relevance of material and concept, thus re-energizing the relevance of the human hand and tacit skills in the age of virtual technology.
Both lived in Kolkata.
Pottery has been the inspiration for more than one story of craft revival. What is now known widely as the Jaipur Blue Pottery had its first revival in the mid-19th century with the advent of the Jaipur School of Art in 1866 under the patronage of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh. The inspiration was the old blue-and-white quartz fritted tilework on Amber Fort, similar to that of Multan, Golconda, Rampur and Delhi. With an emphasis on preserving a Rajasthani design aesthetic, most of the forms were of an Indian type, like the surahi, lota and gulab pash, but with illustrative details based on miniature painting artistic devices. As the secrets of the technology lapsed with each generation and the School of Art in Kishanpol Bazaar was closed down, the craft deteriorated in quality.
It was again the intervention of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, who along with Maharani Gayatri Devi gave the much-needed patronage in post-independence India to the ailing School of Art, which inspired the young Kripal Singh Shekhawat, recently graduated from shantiniketan as a painter in the modernist miniature and fresco style, to set his hand to the revival of this distinctive style of pottery. (15) This infused the Jaipur style with new elements from Bengal. Besides being the ceramics and painting instructor from 1963 at the Sawai Ram Singh Shilp Kala Kendra financed by the All India Handicrafts Board, Kripal Singh also had a workshop for both painting and pottery at his home where he trained young School of Art graduates, kashigars (tile workers) and kumbhars in the basics of production.
Kripal Singh, born in Mau in 1922, is also known for his contribution as a painting student of Nandalal Bose at shantiniketan. Following this, Kripal Singh did a two-year diploma in Oriental Arts from the Tokyo University, Japan. He combined the Rajasthani miniature painting idiom with the Ajanta delicacy of line in nature and, besides reviving and training many younger pottery students and painters, began a new modernisation of the techniques and glaze palette in an individual stylistic development. For this he was awarded the Padma Shri in 1974 and Shilp Guru in 2002. He was also chairman of the Rajasthan Lalit Kala Akademy between 1997 and 1999, while he continued with his painting and pottery till his death in 2008. His pathbreaking revival inspired others like entrepreneur Leela Bordia, under whose artistic direction in collaboration with craftsman Giriraj Singh there was a flowering and expansion of the traditional line of products to encompass new markets through her ceramics initiative Neerja International that revitalised this craft.
The late Sardar Gurcharan Singh became a potter by accident – he went o help his father’s friend, Ram Singh Kabuli in his brick-making business at Delhi Potteries in 1918, where he became fascinated by pottery, watching the Pathan potters who had migrated to India at work and actually learning the basics of the craft from Abdullah. He was sent to Tokyo in 1919 by Kabuli to study commercial ceramics. He spent two years at the Higher Technical School in Tokyo where he met Bernard Leach, Kenkichi Tomimoto, Shoji Hamada and Kanjiro Kawai. He held his first solo exhibition in Tokyo. He returned to India in 1922 to continue work at Delhi Potteries but his increased attraction to studio pottery made him switch to art ceramics from commercial work. With partition, he shifted to Ambala as Superintendent of the Pottery Training Centre there and remained here till his retirement in 1952. He then returned to Delhi where with Abdullah he started Delhi Blue Art Pottery in 1952. His individual stamp was quintessentially a classical form influenced by Japanese and Korean traditions. He used a stoneware clay body and high temperature glazes, fired at 1300 degree centigrade in coal kilns. He supported himself by making glazed tiles and ceramic lattices which were bought by architects in Delhi. But simultaneously he also taught pottery to young students in an effort to popularize its practice in India. In 1983 he organized the first All-India Studio Pottery Show through AIFACS. He set up the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust in 1991 and this Trust continues to be a lively center for studio pottery striving to spread the ceramic word everywhere. He passed away in 1995. The Trust has published The Legacy of Sardar Gurcharan Singh documenting his work in detail.
Born in Bangalore in 1925, S. Krishnamurthy Mirmira joined the Quit India Movement in 1942 as a student of Ceramic Technology at the Bangalore Polytechnic. While an apprentice at the government-run porcelain insulator factory, he was inspired by Dr J.C. Kumarappa, the economist who worked with Gandhi after 1940, in the All India Village Industries Association (atvia) in Sevagram, Wardha, which he joined in 1948. He worked in the village industry section while Devi Prasad, who had recently completed his art training at Santiniketan under Nandalal Bose, joined Sevagram's Basic Education and began Kala Bhavan. Mirmira recalls building the first kiln with Devi Prasad for the firing of terracotta-ware. Kalindi Jena was also at this time a student at Sevagram's Kala Bhavan and stayed there till the mid-1960s.
Mirmira saw the future in the development of glazed terracotta for traditional potters as a way of reviving the local market which was flooded with competitive new materials for vessels and household objects. He joined Acharya Vinoba Bhave's Bhoodan Movement in 1951 and while walking with him through central India, he gained an insight into the social conditions of artisans, especially potters. Mirmira volunteered as Gram Sevak in Bhadrawati due to its large potters' community and rich clay deposits and he opened the Regional Pottery Training Centre called Gramodaya Sangh in 1955 with a programme for educating the adults and children of the village in a night school, spreading information on hygiene and attempting to break the social barriers of caste within the potters' community. He began with the making of bricks as there was a good demand, but faced resistance as it was perceived as work only done by Dalits. With the sale of the first bricks and roofing tiles.
Nearly 25 students a year were trained by Gramodaya Sangh for over 40 years. The training included the technicalities of hand and wheel work with semi-industrial processes of making, glazing, decorating and firing. Most students were later employed in the cooperative production unit and were encouraged to be independent. By 1991, six producer cooperative societies had started employing 300 artisans. This cooperative structure provided a model to others and over 15 such production units were set up in Maharashtra and neighbouring states, tied into a strong social work component in village reconstruction including road-building, school construction, the production of smokeless chulhas and filter candles for potable drinking water, digging of latrines, etc. Among these was the Central Pottery Training Institute in Khanapur where the young B.R. Pandit was one of the trainees in 1970. Four years later, he would go on to train at Bhadrawati and subsequently move to Bombay to become one of the success stories in the transition of traditional to glazed studio pottery.
Mirmira wrote one of the first books on Indian clays and glaze recipes, Indian Pottery, in 1973 after his study trips to Japan, Tanzania and the uk and in 1991 was the recipient of the Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development. He started the whiteware unit at Bhadrawati along with innovations like the design of a paddy-husk-fired kiln (with financial assistance from the Department of Science and Technology for whom he was technical adviser for a few years), along with glazed terracotta. The products, which included a range of tableware and household objects, were sold at Bombay Bhawan and through annual exhibitions in Calcutta, Delhi and Bombay.
The Gandhian-era philosophy and institutional language had, by the end of Mirmira's life, largely disappeared into new policies that encompassed global capitalism, and Indian crafts became the marker for the globalized Indian to keep a romanticized connection to a rich heritage. Mirmira's vision was ahead of his time; one which encompassed the training, production and marketing of glazed terracotta and low-temperature whiteware by artisans with the support of rural and urban markets. His life's mission made a deep impact on the local village economy of Bhadrawati and was an exemplar in new modes of artisanship and entrepreneurship. The Gramodaya Sangh legacy continues even today under new leadership with pottery training courses for new generations.
Anyone working in clay in India in the early seventies, in the vacuum between the industrial ceramic complex and the traditional rural potter, was a pioneer. Ceramic as art? Well that was an uphill battle everywhere apart from the Far East.
In 1969, I met Deborah Smith in the ceramics department of the University of Southern California. We discovered in each other a vague interest in the philosophies of the East and would meet again in India.
My ceramic background was a mix of Carlton Ball-60s-California-Japanese cone10 functional stoneware with a dash of Clayton Bailey funk. My work had already morphed into sculpture before I finished a BFA in ceramics in 1970.
Deborah’s background in clay was in Japan with ceramic sculptor Araki Takako and master potter Yamamoto Toshu in Bizen. She went to Japan to immerse herself in a craft, to submit to a practice with a master. Clay was not a passion; she was looking for discipline, not a career.
In Los Angeles Deborah encountered The Adventure of Consciousness written by a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. That book was a turning point. We had no idea that what we were beginning would play a major role in filling the vacuum.
Attracted by the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, Deborah arrived at his Ashram in Pondicherry in December, 1970. Soon she was sitting before the Mother, who at age 92 sanctioned a glazed pottery unit as part of the ashram activities. One of the Mother’s secretaries had learned that Deborah had studied pot-making in Japan and asked if she would be willing to start a pottery. She agreed, on one condition “if my friend comes and builds me a kiln.”
In May, 1970, Deborah had dropped me off at the Los Angeles International Airport. I had one way ticket to Europe. That fall, while Deborah was in Japan with Professor Susan Peterson who was doing research for her book on Hamada Shoji, I was in the Pyrenees, where I met Brother Cyprian, a 26 year-old Russian Orthodox monk, who was restoring an eight century chapel. We worked together for two weeks, then I headed east overland to India through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, a trip that is virtually impossible to make today.
I arrived in Pondicherry three months later; Deborah asked if I would build her a kiln. “Why not?”
She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire.
The luminous heart of the Unknown is She.
Sri Aurobindo, Savitri
Describing the Divine Mother
The Golden Bridge Pottery began as a 10’ x 20’ coconut leaf shed on wasteland, covered in thorny bushes that bordered the railway line to Villuprum on the south. Adjacent to the north, Swamigun grew rice and to the east was the New Horizon Steel factory. The Mother blessed the project--“it’s a lucky spot.”
The enduring success of the Golden Bridge Pottery is remarkable enough, but understanding its influence means disentangling the intertwined cultural threads: an unlikely confluence of American pioneering spirit, Indian spirituality and Japanese ceramic traditions.1
Deborah intended to work as an individual studio potter producing a very limited line of glazed stoneware. I was going to build her a kiln and move on. We ordered the firebricks: they would be ready in six months! I got a residential permit and built a larger, sheltered space for the pottery. Armed with Daniel Rhodes’ “Kilns: Design, Construction and Operation” I built my first kiln, a 30 cu. ft. cross draft catenary, fired with kerosene and water dripped onto hot iron plates.
In 1971, on the Coromandel Coast of South India, neither Bizenware nor ‘cutting-edge’ ceramic sculpture seemed appropriate. Functional stoneware it was. Kick wheels, clay slaked and sieved into terracotta drying tanks, and natural-draft kilns require no power and were still adequate as production expanded. Raw materials were sourced from India’s well-developed heavy clay industry. After exhausting excursions by bicycle in the treacherous heat in search of a local clay source, romance was overwhelmed by expedience. Now we mix a stoneware body using ingredients purchased directly from mines in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
For the first five years Deb and I worked together with two or three apprentices. As apprentices moved on to establish their own studios, we decided to train young men from the adjacent village.
Now kilns are wood fired—with casuarina, grown locally as a fuel crop—in a 70 cu. ft. car kiln with a Bourry firebox modified to preheat primary combustion air. For over forty years, Deborah managed 16 workers producing a line of more than 200 functional stoneware forms on orders that were more than she could fill, pots, licked by flame and blushed with ash from the firewood, glazed in tenmoku, kaki, chun and egg-shell matts, arguably the finest handmade functional stoneware in India.
A new craft tradition emerged: “Pondicherry pottery.” Buyers from India and abroad now come to Pondicherry/Auroville looking for ceramic product from some 25 workshops varying in size from studio potters working alone to small-scale production units employing up to forty people, making everything from raku to porcelain. Fifty years ago there were none. The makers range from educated Indians and Westerners to unschooled village entrepreneurs.
In 1983 I opened a seven-month training course for students, thus separating teaching activity from the pottery production, with four to six full-time students almost every year since. Students have access to highly skilled production potters at work in all aspects of the process. We turn them loose into abundant infrastructure and give enough direction to get them off the ground. Kilns are big enough to get real work into, wheels are numerous, space is open and extensive, all providing an opportunity to get deeply enough into material and process to develop something of value.
In Delhi, Ray’s solo show 71 Running on view at the Nature Morte Gallery in 2014 coincided with Bridges – Contemporary Ceramics and the Golden Bridge Pottery – a grand show of works by 49 artists who have spent time at the Golden Bridge Pottery over the last 40 years. As Nature Morte gallerist Peter Nagy said, “It is fantastic to see [at Bridges] the influence of his work on so many artists in India, and the range of expression it has spawned.” 2
GBP invites different approaches. Since 1997 we have hosted workshops with artists from abroad, including Susan Peterson, Jane Perryman, Jim Danisch, Mike Dodd, Sandy Brown, Betty Woodman, Jeff Shapiro, Jack Troy, Tim Rowan, Bruce Dehnert and Elena Renker.
‘It’s hard to know what the Indian contemporary ceramic world would have looked like minus the influence of Golden Bridge, but it certainly would have been different,’ says Sharbani Das Gupta, one of the curators of the 2018 triennial. ‘Ray and Deborah created a baseline against which all practitioners would assess their work in a uniquely holistic manner: a quiet and steady stream that has grown into a massive river, shaping and shaped by the land through which it flows.’ All six of the triennial’s original curatorial committee have come through the ‘GBP system’. ‘Rather than a school for ceramics or an institution with mission statements and lofty ideals, Ray and Deborah are Golden Bridge,’ observes co-curator Madhvi Subrahmanian. ‘They lead not so much by instruction as by example: through their attention to detail, the devotion with which they approach their work, and their passion for the material, before form, function and design.’3
Deb retired in 2018. Now the rice fields have given way to housing societies. As workers have retired, the production has slowed down and Deborah and I are looking to the future, perhaps to create an altered space to provide support to contemporary ceramists from India and abroad. Big decisions are in the offing.
Ray Meeker with Deborah Smith
1 Janet Abrams
Crafts (UK) 279, July August2019
2 Anjani Khanna,
Shoulder to the Wheel
ART India. Vol XIX Issue II, 2015.
3 Janet Abrams
Crafts (UK) 279, July August2019
When Delhi Blue Art Pottery closed in Delhi in 1985 due to Delhi’s strict land ceiling act. Delhi Blue Apartments come up on the land. The basement is converted to a pottery studio. Mansimran and Mary Singh who had already moved to Andretta village in the Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh, set up the Andretta Pottery and Crafts Society and rural marketing center with a grant from the Handicrafts Board. They offer three-month courses using local earthenware clay and regularly hold workshops.
A student of architecture and ceramics from the university of Southern California, Ray Meeker founded Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry with Deborah Smith in 1971. Ray’s work ranges from “tea bowls to houses” to kiln building and monumental sculpture.
He is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics. In recognition of his nearly five - decade influence as a teacher and artist, he and Deborah received a joint ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award from NCECA. Still an explorer and making new work, he has developed India’s first Anagama Kiln.
Ray Meeker Lives and work at Pondicherry.
Ira Chaudhuri studied fine arts at Santiniketan, (1949), and intermittently practiced pottery at Baroda’s Faculty of Fine Arts (1951-70). She taught for a year (1963-64) at the Pottery section at the Faculty in Baroda. In 1976, at the Garhi Studios she switched from earthenware to stoneware pottery. She was a guest potter at the Rural Reconstruction Department at Santiniketan in 1978, and taught pottery at University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in 1980-81. In the highly distinctive decoration on her pots, she has been influenced by Indian tribal, pre-Colombian and Oceanic art. She incises or scratches the designs on the pots often through slip colour, giving the pots a rich and attractive textural appearance. Ira became a potter by accident rather than design and she continues practicing it because of what she calls a ‘helpless addiction’ to the craft! She has exhibited her pots and ceramics all over the world.
Ira Chaudhuri lives and works in New Delhi.
A pioneer potter, Nirmala Patwardhan became interested in pottery and glazes while a student at Santiniketan in the 1940s. In 1957, she went to the State Academy of Arts, Stuttgart, Germany, to study ceramics, where Prof. Ulrich Gunther, an expert in glazes fuelled her interest even further. She trained with Bernard Leach and Ray Finch in England in throwing techniques. She has compiled a book, Handbook on Glazes, from her own experiments and formulae of glazes that are based on locally available materials. This was reprinted in 2007 as New Handbook for Potters. She re-created a glaze, now popularly known as Nirmala Chun Glaze, an opalescent stoneware glaze first developed by the Chinese around the 11th century. It is one of the most sought-after glazes. In 1994, she was awarded Senior Fellowship by Government of India to pursue work on old Chinese glazes using Indian clays and minerals. She was teaching pottery, glazing and Raku techniques in workshops that she use to organise over the last four decades, at her studio in Pune.
Nirmala Patwardhan lived in Pune.
Having graduated in 1968 from the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Hyderabad with a diploma in Applied Arts and Design in Sculpture, he went on to complete his MFA in 1972 from the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University Baroda with a specialization in ceramics. Awarded the National Academy Award, amongst many others, for Ceramics by the Lalit Kala Academy, Delhi he was an elected Member of the prestigious International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva.
While having held over 16 solo exhibitions in India, Daroz has represented the country in numerous group exhibitions like the 4th World Ceramic Biennale- Incheon( Korea), 2nd Beijing Art Triennial- China, 3rd World Ceramic Triennial- Zagreb (Croatia), Potters Exhibition-Singapore and the OBIDOS International Biennale- Portugal. He has participated in many international artists’ workshops and camps in diverse countries like Mexico, Thailand, Spain, Singapore, Brunei, Istanbul, Egypt, Malaysia, Yugoslavia, besides all over India.
Daroz’s commissions for architectural ceramics are much sought after in both the private residences of Mumbai, Vadodara, Kolkata, Delhi, Gurgaon, Chennai, Surat, Ahmedabad, as well as in commercial spaces like restaurant and hotels. Among the long list of his large scale ceramic Mural, the Lohia Bhavan façade mural at Nelson Mandela Marg, New Delhi installed in 2016. Some of his ceramic art may be admired at Hotel Le Meridian Gurgaon and Hotel Clarence Gurgaon; Hotel Surya palace Vadodara; Hotel Spice Island Chennai; Raheja Resort, Shalimar Hotel, Grand Hyatt and at Copper Chimney restaurant in Mumbai; the Chopsticks Restaurant in Delhi; Ashoka Restaurant in Nagpur; Coco Palm Restaurant at Gurgaon and the Jewel Of India Restaurant at Manhattan, New York among others.
Corporate offices like those of Emami Ltd. Kolkata; Wadhwa Developers and Reliance Industries Mumbai; IFFCO Sadan and Hyatt Regency Hotel, Delhi; and American Study Centre in Gurgaon; Bayer’s Office, Transpek Industries, Sardar Patel Planetarium and Amigo Securities in Vadodara; Hyderabad Shopping Centre; the Majorda Resort, Goa; and the Krishna Taj Residency in Hyderabad are some that boast of Daroz’s fine artwork.
Daroz works from his private ceramic art studio at Ayanagar near the Gurgaon/Delhi border as well as from Thangarh in Gujarat.
K V Jena specialized in ceramics at the Faculty of Arts & Crafts at the Gandhian Institute at Sevagram. He taught there between 1956 and 1959. He went to Kolkata for three years as a designer in ceramics to the Regional Design Centre, All-India Handicrafts Board and in 1961 moved to Central Design Centre, Lucknow as crafts designer in ceramics and pottery. In 1967, he moved to the Faculty of Fine Arts, Benaras Hindu University, Varanasi to teach under-graduate and post-graduate courses from where he retired in 1995. In his career, K V Jena has been instrumental in setting up a number of pottery centers in Uttar Pradesh, combining traditional Indian values with modern ideas and utilitarian needs. A true Gandhian, he himself worked on the simple village wheel using basic tools only. He has tried to impress this idealism on his students whenever he taught at Varanasi, Baroda, Jaipur and Santiniketan. His work has received many awards and his ceramics are in several collections in India and abroad. After his retirement he worked in his own studio at Phoolpur, a small town in UP.
Jyotsna Shroff Bhatt Born in 1940 at Mandvi in Kutch, she lost her father early but her uncle saw her aptitude in fine arts and encouraged her to pursue it.
Her journey at the wheel began in the 1960s in Vadodara. A high priestess of the world of minerals and fire and clay, she looked around her garden at Vadodara for stimulus and inspiration.
Married to celebrated artist and Padma Shri, Jyoti Bhatt, she always mentioned that her husband was very supportive and her family played an important part in her achievements.
She studied sculpture under Prof. Sankho Chaudhuri at the famed M.S. University at Baroda and later ceramics at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in the U.S. Returning to India she taught at, and later headed the Department of Ceramics at her alma mater until her retirement in 2002.In her career of over five decades, Jyotsna behen had been a part of several group exhibitions, workshops, art camps, and solo shows.
Her last shows at Kolkata and Vadodara showcased a deluge of delightful creations. In her agile hands, inert matter like stoneware, signature matte glazes and minerals seem to awaken, smoke, stretch and settle into a position of poise and reflective.
She always had a preference for matte and satin matte glazes with mottled colour tones. The quirky expression of a cat in sleep, the beauty of an opening bud, little vignettes from nature, her tall vases with a hint of the antiquated murmurs — each piece had its own tale. More than just a ceramic artist, she was a mentor, a pedagogue exemplifying humility, grace and wisdom. She has been a mentor to several ceramicists, all over India. Her incessant urge for novelty in botanical and animal forms kept her agog.
Pottery for Jyotsna Bhatt was a direct, playful expression of the physical body of the maker and the beholder —a connection through form, design, and purpose.
Jyotsna Bhatt used to reside and work at Baroda.
Gauri Khosla who was first Introduced to ceramics in the uk in 1971-73 at the putney school of Art, Hammersmith College of Art and with Harry Horlock Stinger at Taggs Yard.During her stay in Bhutan in mid -70s, she worked with traditional potters as well as starting a trining workshop for young potters,Jongshree, that grew into the established Royal Bhutan Art Potteries.
From 1978, Gauri worked at Garhi Lalitkala Academy Studios and held many national- level exhibitions of her domestic ware with breathtaking glazes and fired textured tactile effects.
Her Sculptural work was inspired by erosion by wind and water and natural contouring showing the miracle of life in nature.
In 1981 in a show with Himmat Shah and P.R.Daroz, She exhibited ceramic stone- inspired spherical forms. Gauri was the first representative from India at the International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva and she had a strong International presence.
She lived and worked in Delhi.
A pioneer potter, Primula Pandit studied Painting at the J J School of Art, Mumbai. Her interest in pottery led her to Gurcharan Singh with whom she worked in the 1950s and made her own kiln with the help of Abdullah from Delhi Blue. She also worked with Bernard Leach in UK (1958), learnt from Maja Grotteli at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, USA (1960s), and in Keschkemet and Siklos, Hungary which is a trend-setter in studio pottery, The Ceramic Millennium in Amsterdam also influenced her work greatly. Her work won Silver Medal at the Mumbai Arts Show in the 1980s and she also won the Silver Medal at Vallories Biennale, France, in the 1970s. As the founder-member of ISPA (Indian Studio Potters Association), she helped organize national and international workshops and in 1994 ISPA held its first international symposium on the theme of Peace and Harmony. In her last years she worked with potters like David Frith, Sandy Brown, Dauphine Scalbert and at the Bruckner Foundation Studios, Carouge, France. She also worked on murals and her work is featured in the film Earth I Am by Bhagwan D. Garga. Sheevolved a method of working with clay called Yoga of Clay as she considered clay a therapeutic medium and conducted workshops on this all over the world.
Kumud Patel completed MA (Fine) in Painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University (1956) and later took Certificate in Pottery and Ceramics (1962). Her interest in pottery was triggered when she was working on a project for Parliament House, New Delhi in 1959, and saw a few potters working nearby. Her teachers in pottery when she did the Certificate Course were traditional potter, Puna Khima, Ira Chaudhuri and B K Barua. Since she studied Miniature style Painting for her under-graduation, she made some outstanding pottery work that she called ‘miniature pottery’ Though these works resembled ‘functional’ pottery, they were actually too small for any practical, functional use, barely three or four inches in height. Kumud Patel was highly skilled in decorating her miniature pots, figural pottery as well as designing ceramic jewellery. She taught pottery and ceramics at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University, Baroda, until her retirement in 1989.
Kumud Patel lived in Baroda.
Pottery is a language that the five-member Pandit family across two generations speaks innately and passionately; it is a craft that bonds the family together. One of India’s most distinguished potters, Bramhdeo Ram Pandit or Panditji as he is respectfully known, and his wife Devkiji, come from families of traditional potters in Bihar with an inheritance of long-established forms and techniques. He moved to Mumbai in 1971 via the KVIC Central Village Pottery Institute at Khanapur (1970) and a working stint with L R Ajgaonkar. He also studied semi-formally at the Handicraft Teacher Training College, Mumbai (1973) at the J J School of Art, Mumbai (1975), at Regional Pottery Training Centre, Bhadrawati (1975), at Garhi, New Delhi (1981), and Workshop training in Japan (1989). In Mumbai Panditji built his studio in Bhayander, now an impressive three-storeyed factory that creates glazed tableware for premium hotel chains and lifestyle stores.
Devi Prasad belongs to a generation of pioneering potters who have made an invaluable contribution to studio pottery in India. Many contemporary potters owe their skill to his teaching and guidance. He graduated in 1944 from Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan, where he studied under Nandalal Bose, Binode Bihari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij. He worked with Mahatma Gandhi from 1942 to 1947, actively participating in the Quit India movement and Vinoba Bhave’s Gramdaan movement, amongst several others. In 1944, he joined Gandhiji’s Sevagram, where he worked on child art and education, and edited Nayee Taleem till 1962. At Sevagram he discovered a traditional potter working close to his cottage and coincidentally also Bernard Leach’s A Potter’s Book in Gandhiji’s library. In 1950-51, Devi Prasad put together a kiln and a couple of kick-wheels at Santiniketan, and with the help of Leach’s book built a pottery workshop there. With the experience he had thus gained, he organized the first Pottery Conference in Sevagram for the Khadi Commission in 1955.
Studied commercial arts at the Sir JJ School Of Arts between 1954-58; during which she started out as a trainee for the magazine ‘Marg’, learning lay-out and production.
Her fine arts bent of mind gave in to an urge to learn pottery, prompting her to seek basic pottery lessons from Ms. Premila Pandit.
Soon the urge manifested into an obsessive occupation. The small studio space at the Bhulabhai Memorial Institute, where she and Ralli Jacob laboured over numerous advertising campaigns, outgrew its graphic design output and served as a pottery studio too.
The brief stint with Ajanta Advertising and the long spell of freelance ad-work helped Perin finally wind up advertising and commercial arts forever.
A mother of two by then, the need to survive and the want to pursue pottery became a balancing act of sorts.
By 1969, diligent ceramic self study and practice took over.
In 1975, shouldering her husband Ralli’s desire to escape the urban race, they moved across the Mumbai harbour to the then green belt Alibag.
A big step forward!
He graduated from Sir J J School of Commercial Arts, Bombay in 1962.
Beginning with Shilpi Advertising in 1963, the next 12 years saw him as an accomplished graphic designer/ free-lancer with top advertising agencies
of his era. Finally, as Chief Art Director of Clarion McCann Advertising, Ralli had spent a satisfying decade of his life in the ad-world.
It was when the going was good, that Ralli got going.
In 1972, he decided to team up with his wife Perin who had already followed her heart to pottery.
All focus shifted to ‘Ceramic Expressions’, their first business venture.
Ralli’s pragmatism helped in actualizing Perin’s dream and a modest pottery studio emerged renamed later as today’s ‘Good Earth’.
Later, Ralli began exploring the possibilities of glass as a new medium, making use of the kiln and the basic infrastructure of their existing studio. Slumping, stretching and twisting cast away bottles to convert them into sculptural and functional objets d’art. Some of these works were exhibited at ‘Transforme Design Studio’, Mumbai in 2007.