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Ceramic arts on display

The ongoing, ?Impressed ? Australian Contemporary Ceramics? display in New Delhi, is a unique visual treat, says Arnab Banerjee.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2006 13:57 IST
Arnab Banerjee
Arnab Banerjee

It’s not very often that international artists come up with a similar agenda – that of exploring a different country’s tradition and history.

But twenty-five contemporary ceramic artists from the state of Victoria, Australia have come together with this view. Each has a unique approach to the traditions of their art, with a point of view to explore or a story to tell.

The resulting exhibition- ‘Impressed – Australian Contemporary Ceramics’ - is currently on this month at the Gallery Twentyfive in New Delhi. The exhibition has been jointly organised by the Victorian Ceramic Group & the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust and it would travelling to other Indian cities as well.

 A part of display

Imbibing the components
Commenting on India’s rich tradition of terracotta pottery, Sandra Bowkett, remarked, “I am drawn to the decorative and functional objects of many cultures, from the refined bone china and porcelain of Europe to the bold low fired utilitarian forms of India and Africa. And I study India in all its cultural component to learn the various techniques, which to the outside world may seem outdated, but is essentially a culture-driven art.”

An odd Indian-Australian Nandita Nadkarni, a graduate of J J School of Arts in Mumbai, who returns to ceramic pottery and also her country after a gap of eighteen years, is “ecstatic” about the exhibition.

“There’s so much learn and give each other that it seems like a never ending process,” says the wife of two kids who balances her life as an artist and a banker.

But she is on the defensive when asked to compare Indian art with Australian, “Who says Indian glazes are any inferior? India in its rich tradition of stoneware and terracotta produces exquisite pottery and I am delighted to see many functional and usable products being developed in what seems to be a popularly growing passion among a lot of youngsters.”

The only thing the Australians find missing is Indian artworks in porcelain. “Perhaps it isn’t as popular as it is in the west, “ observed an Australian artist.

Universal language

Studio ceramic artists and traditional makers are part of a continuum that links ceramic practitioners around the world, across time, distance and cultural difference.

Each piece is imbued with a layering of experience and the telling of personal stories, stories to be interpreted and explored in a new context. The ceramic artist reaches out across time and distance to engage and challenge
the viewer.

 Pagoda bowl

Influences, and the way these are expressed, vary widely as this exhibition clearly demonstrates.

They may be industrial, organic, personal, political, graphic in design, classic in form, functional or sculptural. Particular to ceramic art, because of the very nature of clay, is always a sense of and a sense of hand and a sense of movement.

Pieces appear to shimmer and hover, glazes pool, crystallise; flow over surfaces creating markings long after the fire of the kiln has cooled. Forms are thrown on the potters wheel or hand built.

The soft, plastic clay is pinched, twisted, stretched, cut, impressed and wrapped with purpose and skill to realise the artists’ ideas.

The resulting forms may be fragile, imposing, fluid, or crisply defined, intricately decorated or boldly still. All demand thoughtful attention.

First Published: Mar 25, 2006 18:11 IST