In the hustle and activity of the Simon Art complex, the pottery wheel of the long-running workshop of 70-year-old Merlin Rasquinha – the daughter-in-law of founder Simon Rasquinha – has stopped.
Unfinished masks and jewellery bear the trademark of her unique terracotta tribal motifs and lush finishes, which have travelled to over 60 exhibition across the country. “I’m too old to slave over the kiln, and there are no skilled workers to continue. The younger generation would rather work in an air-conditioned office than make art,” said Ms. Rasquinha.
After having been married to the Rasquinha family, Ms. Merlin used her training in art to start the workshop. For nearly 20 years, the workshop churned nearly four pairs of masks a day. On her inspiration for her unique styles, she says: “Since I got to exhibit works in a lot of states, I learnt their unique cultures and art. I inculcated bits of this and that in my work.”
Over the years, she says she trained – even received sponsorship form the Central government – numerous girls, children of beedi workers, among others in simple pottery, and to manufacture beads and other accessories for the workshops.