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Updated: December 19, 2012 19:26 IST

Etched in stone

Atul Mital
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Tiles are forever: Shalan Dere with her tiles at the showroom in Delhi. Photo: Atul Mital
Tiles are forever: Shalan Dere with her tiles at the showroom in Delhi. Photo: Atul Mital

A recent exhibition sought to elevate tiles from their status of utility ware

Seventy tile makers got together under the aegis of the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust (DBPT) and found even themselves amazed at the show assembled at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi recently. Along with visitors, they were delighted by what was hung on the walls and kept on display.

“Mind boggling variety! Dazzling! I did not imagine so much variety before we put up the show,” said an obviously delighted Rekha Bajpe Aggarwal, a trustee of the DBPT since 2004 and an experienced tile maker. “It’s definitely a defining moment for me,” gushed the bubbling Nandini Datta who had come from Goa to exhibit. Others heartily echoed the sentiments.

The show had vitality and energy, and a use of colours that amazed all. “It is a big achievement for DBPT, now 60 and responsible for the ceramics awareness all round,” said Rekha. Potters from all over had come together and showed a bonhomie rarely seen at art dos. Warmth and joy marked the landmark event titled Tiles Forever. “It’s very rarely that so many come together and the credit for it goes to DBPT,” echoed Rekha, adding that there was positivity at the show and the warm response was encouraging.

Harsimran Singh, son of the DBPT founder Gurcharan Singh, said of the 60th anniversary show, “We were trying to revive the tile/mural aspect,” and that they did.

Shalan Dere, from Mumbai, said that some visitors made enquiries and a few works were sold then. People were seen at the gallery at all hours, having more than a passing look. Clearly this show was a big success by any yardstick in the ceramics world, she said, adding that ceramics needed putting on a pedestal and clearly that had happened.

Earlier ceramics had been thought of as utility ware only and the show challenged that by literally putting the tiles on the walls. Though tiles had been seen on walls earlier, somewhere mechanisation and commercialisation had come in, Rekha added, and tiles were often seen as bathroom flooring material.

She said, “We put art on them and brought them back,” she said. “Tiles and the whole movement behind them has resulted in a wider view. It’s not just tiles on walls, but a 3D wall art form instead of flat simple tiles”, Rekha explained.

“I told Jatin Das at the show that our show had taken over his wall space”, she recalls with a laugh.

Shalan Dere said the show was ceramic art and needed more attention, even within the community, considering that years of hard work were required before one got anywhere. The earlier treatment to it had been unfair. Tiles deserved a higher place in the art world and a very high spot has been achieved in this show, she said. “Now the feeling has emerged that clay can be used up to the point of fine art”, she said.

Rekha informs that even more success seems round the corner – global success. “We are trying for an international tie-up and soon there could be a global shop in Delhi. I am hopeful!” Her eyes sparkle and the voice is happy. Much like the tiles forever show the DBPT worked hard over and tasted big success with.

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