i started learning pottery on march 11, 2008. this is after four years of wanting to do pottery. and i knew the best place would be golden bridge pottery at pondicherry, run by ray meeker and deborah smith. i had seen ray meeker's work in bangalore when he was working at protima bedi's nrityagram and later here and there whenever one could catch a ceramic show. i knew that people came from all corners to learn from him. and sometime one had to wait for years to get in.
i stopped dancing in november 2007 and decided to move to pondicherry and thought i will now apply at golden bridge (GBP) and wait for my turn. i didnt hv to wait ! ray asked me why i would want to switch to a weirder less profitable profession and i said its too late to join a management course. and in march i started my course.
i never did pottery before. but the material clay was enigmatic. chandralekha, my teacher-mentor-friend introduced me to bronze sculptures and then to terracotta and that led me to clay. the most important being what the human body could do with the clay body. to use the hands, to use the centre and the rhythm of the body to help in creating a form with clay.
i started with centring. 500gm of clay ball. and making cylinders. i made cylinders all through the morning and made clay in the hot afternoons. we made our own clay, and it was a beautiful experience to see the mud with all impurities transform itself into smooth clay. from march to may we made cylinders, cups, beer mugs, jugs, jars, bottles, teapots. and the first firing in the month of june.
my first firing experience was wonderful. we three students shared a kiln. we do high temperature firing, upto cone 10 , ie 1300 temp. i had used few glazes, keeping it quite simple as it was my first firing and also not so much variety in form. i have felt in the last one year that i like to go slow with the process, and dont perticularly like to bring in too much variety (unless i feel deeply about it). i like to work on one form over and over again till the change happens organically in the process and gives way to a new form. after our first firng, end of june to end of the course in september we did several more excersises and we did another shared firing but in a different kiln. i hv put some of the pics of GBP and my work in the first two firings here.
we are actually spoilt in GBP, its such a beautiful, vast space that one could so easily grow used to it. am glad this is my first introduction to ceramic. everything is around you. the throwers with an experience of more than thirty years are working in the same place, glazes are being prepared, debi although doesnt teach the course is always there for guidance, wood is stored and kept dry, more than one woodfiring kilns is surely a luxury- no potter would deny that, and more than anything ray is constantly there to teach, guide, question and provoke a thought. i am not only learning the basic technique in GBP but also learning to "see" things. to think about forms. to visualise forms. to say no to certain things. most important to be self critical. and GBP is one place which doesnt hv the baggage of an institution, its simply works as a huge studio where ray happens to teach becoz he loves teaching.