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Potters in Delhi by Arunima Kumar, a student of JMC, DU (2007)
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Potters in Delhi by Arunima Kumar, a student of JMC, DU (2007)

DELHI BLUE POTTERY TRUST

Sardar Gurcharan Singh, the pioneer of studio pottery in India, set up the Delhi Blue Art Pottery around 1953. This was the first institution which taught pottery in India. In 1991 Gurcharan Singh formed the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust.

The pottery course is for 6 months. A student can start classes at any point of time in the year. A student can select one of 2 programmes. He may choose to work for either 3 days or 2 days in a week. Each session is for 3 hours. A student may either work from 10 am to 1 pm or from 2 pm to 5 pm. The cost for the 6 month course for working 3 days per week is Rs. 8100 and for working 2 days per week is Rs. 5500.

The summer workshop is for a month and ends in July. Wheel work is not taught during the summer workshop. Other forms of working with the clay, such as coiling and slab work, are taught. A student works 3 days in a week. Each session is for 3 hours. The cost for the month long summer workshop is Rs. 1400.

Delhi Blue Pottery Trust provides firing facilities. The cost of using the big kiln for glaze firing is Rs 1300 plus the cost of gas and the small kiln can be used for a cost of Rs. 800 plus the cost of gas.

Studio pottery is also sold here all year round.

Contact Number: 26198588
Address: 2 Factory Road, Blue Apartments, Safdurjung Enclave, New Delhi

Note: Delhi Blue Pottery Trust is closed on Monday

Delhi Blue Pottery Trust also holds classes at the Sanskriti Kendra, Anand Gram.
Address: Sanskriti Kendra, Anand Gram (opposite 25th Battalion SSB), Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road
Contact Number: 26501125

KESHARI NANDAN

Keshari Nandan established his studio in Delhi about a year ago. He studied fine arts (ceramics) at the Banaras Hindu University and completed the masters' programme in 1999. Over the years, he has done group and individual exhibitions of his work both in Delhi and Mumbai. He worked as a designer at Bharat Pottery in Jaipur. He also worked as a teacher of pottery at IGNOU for a year. He has given short term courses in pottery to American university students who have come to India to study its cultural heritage. He also gives lessons in pottery to children at the Colour Factory (Gurgaon). His work would soon be sold at the Fabindia outlets.

Contact Number: 9891409721
Address: Ghittorni (near Ghittorni school bus stand)

MADHUR SEN

Madhur Sen's studio is called the Blue Turtle. It is a warm and lively place. Doors are coloured blue and yellow, there are books on shelves, and her work fills all corners. Work mingles with fun here. While she carefully gauges the seriousness and passion of prospective students for pottery, one can also imagine laughter filled afternoons there with the studio helper churning out omelets and maggi noodles for everyone.

Madhur Sen was introduced to pottery while she was studying sculpture at the Delhi School of Arts (1982-1986). The school had acquired a wheel and she studied pottery as part of curriculum. After completing her graduation programme, she joined the Garhi Artists' Community. It was here that all innovations in pottery at that time were brewing. She worked amongst and learned from the master potters that converged here.

Through her lessons in pottery, she attempts to inculcate an understanding of the clay in the students. The students must study for a minimum of 3 months and work for 6 hours every week. The course is for people who are at least 18 years old. Madhur Sen is not presently enrolling new students as she is preparing for an exhibition to be held in Japan in July 2007. New admissions and classes at the studio will resume in August 2007.

Contact Number: 40562071 (Blue Turtle)
Address: B 140 Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi

MANISHA BHATTACHARYA

Manisha Bhattacharya built her studio in 1993. The studio was constructed on the terrace of her house. She has placed her wheel along a glass wall that looks out to the open sky. The different landscapes of the sky in winter and monsoon are not only beautiful but also fill her with a sense of infinite space; a space in which new ideas are born and can be explored. She combines this conceptual freedom with the fundamental techniques of the art form in her work and teaching.

Manisha Bhattacharya started the study of pottery at the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust in 1984. She later worked at the Garhi Artists' Community and the Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry. She worked with Jane Hamlyn in London in 1992 on a scholarship from Inlaks Foundation. She also studied at the Cardiff Art and Design School at the University of Wales in 2001 on a scholarship from the Charles Wallace Trust. In 2003, she studied at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University on a Fulbright scholarship.

The most important endeavour of her teaching is that the students discover the clay and learn to express themselves through this medium. While the learning process is exciting it also requires patience and perseverance. The minimum duration of study is 4 months.

Contact Number:27248513/42376037/9810512560
Address: House Number F, Tagore Park (opposite Canara Bank), New Delhi 110009

DIPTI GUPTA

Dipti Gupta studied pottery under the guidance of studio potters, Manisha Bhattacharya and Rachna Parashar. She built her studio in 2006. She has exhibited her work at IFACS and Osho World.

I have included some photographs of her collection dedicated to Lord Buddha that was exhibited at Osho World. Her work consists of wheel thrown pots in stoneware clay body mostly brushed with slips through which the drawings are incised (sgraffito).

Classes are held at her studio on 3 days in a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). Each session is for 3 hours. She recommends a minimum study period of 3 months to acquire an understanding of the clay. 

Contact Number: 9871144914
Address: UP 4, Maurya Enclave, Pitampura, New Delhi 110088
Email : deepotter282@hotmail.com

ELA MUKHERJEE

Ela Mukherjee studied the master's programme in English literature. She was initiated to work with the clay by her husband who is a sculptor. She started to make hand-molded forms. In 1994, she came to live in Delhi. She joined a 6 month course in glaze making taught by Rachna Parashar, a studio potter. She was fascinated by the wheel-work of other students and decided to undertake an apprenticeship with Rachna Parashar.

Ela Mukherjee built her studio in 2002 and gives lessons in pottery there. She works as a visiting teacher in programmes organized by NGOs and participates in community based programmes with traditional craftsmen.

Contact Number: 22758129/9811811165
Address: 153 D, Mayur Vihar, Phase 1, Pocket 1, New Delhi

Indu Rao

Indu Rao has been giving lessons in pottery for since 2005. She studied the master's programme in fine arts at the Maharaja Sayaji Rao University in Baroda. She had always been interested in the study of pottery but pursued it much later. A beautiful pot that she saw at a friend's house rekindled her interest. Soon after, she began the study of pottery under the guidance of the acclaimed studio potter, Devi Prasad.

The classes at her studio are held twice a week for every student. Each session is for 2 hours. Classes have been discontinued at her studio for some time as she is changing her home but will resume in end August.

Contact Number: 95124-2367332/9811967138
Address: E Block, 2226, Ansals Palam Vihar, Gurgaon, Haryana 1122017

KUMAR GALI UTTAM NAGAR

INTRODUCTION TO INTERVIEWS

We truly appreciate a work of art when we relate to it. When we see a part of ourselves mirrored in that work, an unspoken, perhaps unknown, piece of ourselves is found in that song, painting, photograph, or dance form. It is with this understanding that I attempt to give you a glimpse of the lives of some of the potters working in the city. When we know a little about the creator, we may see more in the creation which is similar to how we think, live, and love.

The following information was collected through personal interviews with the concerned persons.

KUMHAR GALI, UTTAM NAGAR

There is a very old settlement of potters in Uttam Nagar. The workshops are spread over Prajapat Colony, Vikas Nagar, and Bindapur Road. It is not difficult to find the way here. The area has a metro station. At the station, ask any local resident for directions to the 'kumhar gali' and one would receive a confident response. The lanes within Uttam Nagar are lined with several workshops. In some of the households, entire families are engaged in terracotta pottery. Mostly one floor of the house has been converted into the workshop. Every workshop is equipped with wheels and a furnace. The wares are also sold here. The potters make utensils, planters, stools, statues, and decorative pieces.

Many of the potters working here have shown exemplary skill. There are 6 potters who have won national awards for excellence in terracotta pottery. I happened to come across the family to which 3 of them belong. While searching for the master craftsmen here, I was directed by a potter to Giriraj Prasad's home. Giriraj Prasad welcomed me into his home and was very kind to speak to me about his work. He has been working as a potter for 58 years. He won the national award for excellence in terracotta pottery in 1987. His wife, Angoori Devi, and younger son, Bhuvnesh Prasad, are also the recipients of this award. His elder son, Shyam Prasad, is a potter and fashion photographer. Their hometown is near Alwar in Rajasthan. At the age of 8 years, Giriraj Prasad started to work on the potter's wheel under the tutelage of his uncle. He moved to Delhi after getting married with the intention of expanding his work. His wife learned pottery with his guidance. In 1873, his family constructed their first house on a plot of land in Uttam Nagar. The walls were made of pots (matkas) placed close together. With time, Giriraj Prasad created a niche for himself and people came to him with unusual requests, such as one for a musical instrument made with clay. He exhibited his work in other countries. On a visit to some art colleges in Australia, he constructed furnaces for them as they are built here. These journeys brought not only fame but also several adventures for him. The title of 'Shilp Guru' has been given to him by the Indian government.

As he showed me around his workshop, Giriraj Prasad tapped on several pots and pointed out that every pot makes a distinct sound. Just as no two human voices are the same, the sound made by different pots is not the same. He also told me the mythological history of pottery. Lord Brahma was the first potter. He used Lord Vishnu's chakra as the potter's wheel to make the first wares. A string of the sacred thread worn by Brahmans was used to separate the pot from the wheel.

It is always nice to meet a person who is passionate about his work. For such encounters leave us with a new perspective and a renewed inspiration. We not only learn something new but are always left with the feeling of having connected with the world in some significant way.

I suggest that anyone who wants to learn more about terracotta pottery should meet the craftsmen in Uttam Nagar. I have also given the contact details of Giriraj Prasad.

GIRIRAJ PRASAD

Studio Address: L 73, Chanakya Place, Part II (40 feet road), New Delhi

Contact Number: 25590181 (Studio)

Giriraj Prasad's son, Shyam Prasad, gives lessons in pottery at his studio in Jungpura Extension. He gives lessons in terracotta pottery, sculpture, clay modeling, and photography.

The lessons in terracotta pottery comprise of a basic and an advanced course. The time period for each course is a month. The student can begin a course at any point of time in the year. The courses give emphasis to perfecting the throwing of pots.

Address: I 2 Basement, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi

Contact Number: 9810615005

Website address: www.shyamprashad.com

MAHINDER IS A TERRACOTTA POTTER IN UTTAM NAGAR
Mahinder and his brothers, Laxman Das and Ram Sarod, are terracotta potters. Their father was the first member of the family to take to this occupation. The workshop has been built on the terrace of their house. It is equipped with electric wheels and a furnace.

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Interns

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