Exhibition at Cymroza in Bombay
Priya Sen and Wali Hawes
It is very interesting to see that the art of ceramics is expressing itself in so many different ways. On one side you see artists following the old established traditions, highly creative, some of whom excel and at least are on par with the work of old masters. Beautiful and highly finished objects. This is one side of the ceramic picture in India. The other side of the picture is of objects extremely different and unconventional. This new generation of potters are working in unconventional forms, techniques and finishing.
In addition to many ceramic artists working on traditional lines, India now has an increasing number of ceramists who have reached a significantly high level in terms of technique as well as variety. I have the privilege of presenting the work of two such artists who, for some time, have been experimenting, in their own ways, with forms and glazes.
Priya, living in Delhi for the last 17 years, is profoundly marked by nature, which formed an integral part of her childhood in Dehra Dun. She tells me that she does not like to make symmetrical objects any more as they seem 疎rtificial・somehow. In that she was influenced by Japanese aesthetics since the workshop she organised in 1999 of 5 potters from Japan - including Wali Hawes - and her subsequent visit to that country the year after. So she "creates beauty" by deforming her work. But deforming does not mean disharmony - and nature is totally harmonious. This is very unlike her earlier work and the work of most artists. Her pots are in earthenware, in which she is working for the first time.
Wali was born in Bombay in 1952 and has been living in Japan since 1991. His work is in semi-porcelain with under glaze decoration, covered by a transparent glaze. He fires at 1220 degrees centigrade in a gas kiln. He then gilds his work with gold lustre. He is basically a "clay man" who likes to say that he "eats clay". His glazes are fabulously bright and the total effect - with gold embellishment - is remarkable.
I am sure visitors to this exhibition would find it a source of liveliness and joy.
A giant figure in Contemporary Indian Studio Pottery has been a great inspiration to the new generation of potters and is a deeply respected teacher
New Delhi, December, 2004
A Brief Sketch
A more or less self-taught potter, Priya Sen first began to do ceramics when she was studying in Paris. Although she studied development economics, it seems she was attracted to pottery when she was in the Modern School, but at that time only boys did pottery, girls painted.
She moved back to India in the late eighties, and in 1991 she helped to organize a pottery exhibition in the south of France. The theme of the exhibition, held in a pottery village, St. Quentin-la-Poterie, was traditional Indian pottery, but she persuaded the organizers to invite contemporary Indian potters living in Europe. Along with two remarkable men living in Paris, Wali Hawes living and working in northern Spain was also invited. This is how the collaboration between the two started.
In 1991 she worked under Devi Prasad and later at the Blue Pottery. She brings a unique occidental understanding to an oriental sensibility. She has participated regularly in the pottery exhibitions held in Delhi and Baroda, and each show has indicated growth and style. She continues to search, which she says is a never ending and fundamental process in her ceramics.
Wali Hawes, who is exhibiting jointly with Priya in Mumbai at the Cymroza Art Gallery, is a potter based in Japan. Wali is Mumbai born, a place he left in his teens. While at university, which was near Stoke-on-Trent, the centre of ceramic production in the UK, Wali realised that this was his metier.
After a brief spell at art college in Essex, he migrated to Spain, where he set up a pottery studio near Barcelona. He worked there for ten years combining the Hispanic sensibility with its Moorish influences, especially in the slip decorated earthenware of his work at this time. The political upheaval following the death of Franco unleashed the creative juices of the Spanish. The centre of all this was Barcelona, where la Movida (movement) was the strongest. Like the artists around him, he began to reflect these ideas in his work. This allowed a more experimental approach, which led to his monumental sculptures known as FIRE TREES. The move to Japan caused a certain amount of introspection that was translated into functional pottery for everyday use and echoes the Japanese axiom 羨rt is found in objects of everyday life・ A deep search for unfettered communication marks his style together a profound need to express "ananda" in his work.
Is an ex-journalist and former editor of The Times of India. Director of the NGO DRAG which is commited to educational, environmental and social issues, he is also an avid collector of ceramics.
A Potters Path
They say that "All roads lead to the wheel" and in the case of Priya Sen , denied access to clay at school, made her even more determined than ever to do pottery. At the first opportunity she got at the age of 14, she made a bust of Rousseau. Later when she moved to France she found herself thrust into the effervescent Feminist Movement where she met two Greek women potters who gave her the chance to continue her work in clay. This exposure saw her spending most of her time in learning the techniques of pottery. A fortuitous meeting with the great Jehangir Bhowanagari, Award winning film maker, potter and magician who graciously allowed her to use his studio and share his skills and knowledge meant that her pottery began to explore further areas beyond basic technique.
Priya痴 connection to France goes back a long time and her connection to the arts all go back to the day she was born as both her parents worked with Uday Shankar at his dance academy in Almora which was revolutionizing India dance at that time. Being so close to all the arts, be it dance, theatre or music has had a profound impact and infused her aesthetics with great sensitivity which is translated into the work she does. In the 14 years spent in France she had a unique opportunity to get first hand experience in pottery and to meet potters.
On her return to India she set up her own studio and she became active in the flourishing Studio Pottery Movement in India. Her work covers a wide area from functional tableware to decorative pottery. Techniques also include wood-fired work to the more conventional forms of firing. Her decorative techniques range from vibrant glazes to energetic designs over bold organic and structural forms
Wali Hawes, much travelled potter had a lucky introduction to clay when he was in search of presents for family and friends way back in the late Seventies. Living in the UK at the time and at a bit of a loose end, this introduction proved to be the opening of a new and fascinating world which continues till today. Early years were a constant struggle not only to overcome and master technical difficulties but also to find out what he really wanted to say with the material. Gifted teachers were always a great inspiration to him. A move to Spain in the early Eighties gave him the opportunity to dedicate himself totally to pottery. The cultural Renaissance that swept Spain after the political upheavals was pivotal as opportunities blossomed and new possibilities opened up. He covered everything from traditional roof tile making and architectural applications of ceramics in Low Cost Housing to domestic tableware, and installations to kiln building. The Fire Trees, which are monumental clay works were a product of this experience and explores the conceptual aspects of the ceramic process.
Now resident in Japan he moved there to deepen his knowledge and understanding of the craft. Japan is the paradise for all potters and it is Japanese pottery that has laid the foundation for Studio Pottery the world over. Aesthetics and technique in Japan is unequalled in many of the fields in ceramics. The stay there has been very fruitful as it has shown the true nature and source of the contemporary currents in ceramics today. Due to his international experience he has been instrumental in cultural exchanges in several countries. He has exhibited widely principally in Japan and Spain but also in India, France, Portugal, The UK and The Czech Republic.
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