ceramic artist, painter, architect

Adil Writer is a Potter, Ceramist, Painter and Architect from Bombay, currently living and working in Auroville, where he is a partner at Mandala Pottery which produces functional tableware and assorted ceramic items, and also specializes in architectural ceramic murals & installations. From his own Studios at Mandala, he creates his own line of ceramic works.

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co-curator from South Zone, “Porcelain” show

When Delhi Blue approached me to be the curator for the South Zone, for the first time this Parsi fellow felt he had finally become “south Indian”! The responsibility of selecting artists from one of the busiest hubs of ceramics on the subcontinent was a challenge. Since a few of the usual suspects decided not to participate, this opened up avenues for fresh talent that is flowering in this hinterland. 

Ange Peter, I consider the queen of porcelain in this part of our enchanted forests of Auroville. Her initial struggles with porcelain and how, over the years, she has made the Haiyu Slipware technique she imbibed from her sensei in Japan, her own, is a story in itself. I am looking forward to delicate drawings, elegant forms and a purity of material one immediately sees in Ange’s work.

Anamika Borst is my partner at Mandala Pottery. Usually not too enthusiastic about attaching her name to a group show, it was porcelain that drew her out and on to the catalogue cover! She is working on two separate aesthetics. One, small, intimate wheel-thrown objects, and diametrically opposite, press-moulded, torn, altered porcelain with thick crackle slips that defy gravity, often held in place by a goopy teal glaze at could well be inspired by the colour of her eyes!

Aarti Vir has her studio in Hyderabad and is possibly the most proficient salt-firer in India today. Her organic forms, her line drawings, her pertinent stories draw you into her world of salt, clay and metaphors. For this show she is working on the “Hidden Patterns” series: patterns of thought, feeling, and attitudes that in the course of our everyday life we display, but fail to see ourselves. Patterns blasted with salt? We wait and watch! 

Nausheen Bari’s clay work is highly textured, her forms amorphous, her aesthetic wood-fired, her approach harking back to time well-spent at Golden Bridge Pottery. For her, matter matters! Diametrically opposite, is Saraswati, with her past-life genetics rooted in Russia, her delicacy and playfulness in clay and soft-coloured glazes immediately telling you she loves the magic that comes from working with children and porcelain.

Sabrina Srinivas may seem laid back, but in her approach to white- and coloured- porcelain, I find her brave and adventurous, offering her meticulously crafted pieces to the vagaries of my soda firings …and living to tell! Ditto with the thinner-than-paper pieces of Priya Sundaravalli, whose work has a very ethereal presence, her pieces hardly belying the pinching, poking, needling, punching she subjects them to, prior of painstakingly incising patterns reminiscent of native storytelling. Not surprisingly, Priya has studied ceramics under the tutelage of a Native American professor in New Mexico.

You may think you are lost in paddy fields of Tamil Nadu, but you would be in the studio of Sushma Anand in Kerala. Don’t be fooled by these verdant surroundings. You will find acute urbaneness in her tiffin boxes, coffee presses and tea boilers. And as if these interlocking forms are not enough, Sushma transfers prints and images on her clay-work, the mulligatawny of which makes you want to spoon out sambar from the ceramic tiffin as you read the newspaper printed on its surface!

Rakhee Kane I call the big momma of ceramics in Auroville. She is technically proficient, deep rooted in her vernacular, animated in her line drawings, and ever ready to help one and all in clay. Some years ago, Rakhee and I hosted Ruthanne Tudball in Auroville to figure out the mysteries of soda firings, and it has been a life-changing experience for both of us. Rakhee fires her soda-kiln with gas, I fire with wood. A certain camaraderie has crept into soda firings in Auroville, where we invite neighbouring potters to participate in our soda firings. Porcelain is not Rakhee’s choice of clay, however, we know she will find her way with spectacular results.

It has been a rewarding experience herding together the motley group of artists for this show, and we are all grateful to Delhi Blue for goading us into this. I have to say I am also sad at the equally proficient others from the Zone that didn’t make it to the final list.

Porcelain is geologically unavailable on the Indian subcontinent. But what geology isn't providing us, Delhi Blue is ... over the last decade. Most of us are trained in and work with stoneware, so the inherent qualities of porcelain, which demand a very different approach, are relatively new to most of us. Exchanging stories of well-fired tests and under-fired heartbreaks has tided us through to this landmark show at the Habitat. 

We are putting together a mini-group show within our assigned zonal space, titled
“Black & White”. The attempt being to work on our own pieces as also work with a theme that brings us all together in porcelain.

I hope the talent, camaraderie and freshness shines through. Isn’t that finally what it is all about?

Adil Writer




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