November and December have gone into getting my studio ready. On many levels these two months have been life changing. So much travelling in the early part of the year, I was beginning to feel displaced. Every time I come back I am left with this feeling “ I don’t know why I live here!” not that I hv any other place in my mind where I want to live, not that I am even trying to escape from here..
I hv created a small world which is about 2600 sq feet where I feel belonged. Over which I have some control, to keep it clean, garbage free, plastic free, grow fruits and vegetables without using pesticides, to know that at nights I can still sit outside without lights and see the stars and the fireflies (and of course then there are things beyond my control like my neighbor’s four coconut trees which are leaning half way into my property which he refuses to do anything about since last one year , and the electricity guy who is supposed to take my metre reading but doesn’t show up at all and decides to bill me whatever he wishes to..). most of the days go into chasing people, and if you are a single woman living alone half the time you are not even taken seriously!
If I still ask the question why I live here, I don’t know the answer, but am still proud of creating this small space where I feel I belonged.
That’s mostly the reason why I do what I do, its part of trying to make sense of all the chaos and nonsense around, to try to create something, which suits my aesthetics.
So, as the year was about to end and as I felt displaced all over again, here I was trying to extend that small world into a living as well as a workspace: a studio project.
One lunch at Adil’s place, Amrita told me her friend Priya, an old student of Golden Bridge, is planning to give away her brand new kiln, which has seen only three firings. My first thought was, wow is this really happening, just as am about to think of building a kiln.. I went to Bangalore to see the kiln and met priya, the kiln was in a great condition, I immediately agreed to buy it from Priya and her mother Leila. I talked to the mason who helped build my house, put together a team of three workers went to Bangalore and spent three days all of us working and dismantled the whole kiln. Leila was so kind that she decided to give away even the sheets covering the kiln shed, and to sell me her electric wheel and allowed to buy it paying her in installments.
Velu, the mason put together another set of workers for me to build the kiln. The design is exactly based on Ray’s design of the Upma kiln at GBP. It’s a downdraft kiln, works like magic every time and one person can easily fire it. It’s a dream kiln for anyone who has small space and don’t hv any help around for firing: that’s me!
I had discussed the kiln design with Ray and Antra, and had all the drawings and notes ready, but as I never built a kiln before I was super nervous. I threatened Antra to be ready for my panic phone calls, cry for moral support. Antra said, trust your insticnts, as you build you will get a feeling of what to do.. As I started building the kiln I realized how much I had underestimated my understanding of a kiln, all those 70 odd firings in the last 4 years at GBP I realized I had learnt so much that I wasn’t fully aware of it myself. It was truly fascinating to build the kiln brick by brick, to visualize so clearly the path of the fire and flame and to imagine the works inside it had the same gush of energy when I finish making an art work. Endorphin release , I was happy even when my neighbor refused to cut the half falling trees..
Am calling my kiln, ‘Ash-di-Bhatti’ (kiln of ash)
Then came Mojo, in between the studio project, she must be only 4-6 weeks old when Mal found her around her house abandoned by her mother. That’s what my house lacked, a cat. This house is designed to have a cat , it has all the right colors, nooks and corners for a cat to blend with, my house is the perfect sleepy little place for a sleepy kitten. Well, right now she is not sleeping much but chasing feathers and leaves and being a jumping jack. More endorphin release.
Two whole months of work, with few days of firing the chinnagama at GBP and rainy days here and there- I had my studio ready for the New Year to start working. Three weeks of work, wood has already come, pyrometer is here, am going to Chennai to get my shelves soon.
The house, the small studio, my papaya plants and Mojo: I think even if I don’t know why I live here; I think I know why I have tried to create this space.