Padma Shree Lt. Sardar Gurcharan Singh

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.