Kristine Michael’s Ceramic Cluster at British Council Delhi

[Times of India] Kristine Michael’s Ceramic Cluster at British Council Delhi

Critic and Curator Uma Nair has been writing for the past 33 years on art and culture She has written as critic for Times of India and Economic Times. She believes that art is a progressive sojourn. And there are those who are taught and those who are self taught. She herself had learnt by looking at the best shows in Washington D.C. and New York. And life is about learning and growing... LESS ... MORE

Kristine Michael the ceramic artist , ceramic guru, author, the country’s finest ceramic curator sent me an invitation to a small Charles Wallace scholarship artists exhibition at the British Council Delhi that made me sit up.The Charles Wallace scholarship has seen greater and lesser artists fly to Great Britain and come back with refined strengths to do great things.

On the invitation of this seminal yet small exhibition is a circular ensemble of terracotta toned petal like creations that invited the human gaze. Kristine as a curator has always enticed art lovers, students and critics alike for her choices of medium as well as the balance of favouring compositional classics that are simple in appearance, but complex in construction.

Ela Mukherjee’s Meanderings

This interest in ancient objects is very much in step with one modernist of this time—Ela Mukherjee whose textured markings on terracotta kept your eyes riveted, calls her work Meanderings, 2021-2022. It is a magical ensemble of a terracotta, multiple piece installation on the wall.

The present display consists of 105 pieces and spans in a spiral of 6ft diameter. The work is done over the pandemic lockdown and the minimal drawings on each of them record my daily experience of the period in abstract terms. The layout of the display as an open circle is deliberate.

Ela explains: “ My work is about repetitive sequencing with separate elements to form a cohesive sculptural group. Though small in scale, once installed, they often command a large space. The emphasis on form is primary for me. The reference for form can be from nature or manmade. The use of colour is minimal in my works. It is the form which decides the clay body I will work with. So, I fire my works in various temperatures in my gas kiln and at times I fire my works multiple times to achieve the desired result. I rarely use glazes. My concentration is on making different clay bodies with different organic materials for texture; oxides and ceramic stains for colours. I also use oxide wash and underglaze wash on the surface. I prefer to fire my work in a gas kiln over an electric kiln.”

Abhay Pandit’s oceanic secrets

The next riveting set belongs to Abhay Pandit’s trio of 3 works set in a glass vitrine. Think ceramics and you conjure visions of ceramic artists who have worked more than two decades who would build their ware or vessels by bringing several thrown forms together or hand moulded to create a new series. Over the years one has watched some great ceramic practitioners eschewing glazes and preferring the textured surfaces achieved through the application of white and black slips, evoking the abraded texture of excavated vessels. Abhay belongs to this group.

Two brilliant ceramic creators

Of deep interest and intrigue are two young artists Gukan Raj from Chennai and Sitanshu Maurya from Kolkata. The treatment of form and its quaint curiosity is what sets these two apart. From his experiments, you notice that the respective influences between colour and volume are noteworthy, and it seems entirely necessary to systematically make a note of their artist’s intent. Sitanshu’s work shows both reverence of and dedication to the creative process as a defined priority. The meticulous execution displayed in the present works through the unique organic shapes, layout and contrast are a testament to this. Beyond its form, Sitanshu’s sensibility appears to be a visual research output from which to make aesthetic hypotheses.

So many journeys

In her note Kristine says: “ Opportunities lead to new journeys allowing for growth, interaction and fresh stimulus. Challenges to old ways of thinking can bring about a thirst for developing original aesthetic concepts, palettes and trajectories. The seven ceramic artists and makers presented in this exhibition have been facilitated by the Charles Wallace India Trust (CWIT) to work with British artists and UK art institutions. These interactions have enabled them to develop a new artistic language based on a multi-disciplinary approach focused on process, research, exploration, materiality, and critical thinking. Over the decades, this flow of ideas has led to a deeper understanding of India within the UK.”


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Views expressed above are the author's own.