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Passion for pottery

Her childhood passion for drawing gave her not just a master's degree in painting but also a unique career. Meet Aarti Vir who made a name for herself in art of pottery.

SMILE OF SUCCESS: The artiste sits pretty with her creations.

THERE SHE sits at a wooden wheel, kicking it gently to go round, while her hands shape wet black clay into pretty shapes. This is but the first phase of what will eventually be a mug, or a dish, perhaps even a casserole and will adorn the shelves of her modest workshop at Madhapur. Meet Aarti Vir, a potter of some repute, whose glazed functional pottery and stoneware fill the shelves of Contemporary Arts and Crafts, near Somajiguda circle, and `also' boutique in Begumpet.

Her passion for pottery stems from her childhood love for drawing. All she ever enjoyed doing then was to draw and, as if to fuel her passion, school days soon took on a different meaning for her: it was Ms. Azra's weekend painting classes during the school term and weekday sessions during the vacations that gave her a sense of direction.

Though a career decision was difficult for her to make, all she knew was that "it had to be something connected with art." Maths, being a bugbear, stopped her from taking up architecture though creating forms and shapes fascinated her. With a bachelor's degree in painting from M.S. University, Vadodara, where she did a subsidiary course in pottery, followed by a master's degree in painting from the University of Hyderabad, which wasn't memorable at all.

Another short course at The Golden Bridge Pottery Institute at Pondicherry, gave her knowledge the edge it needed. Today, two years later, she creates the most stunning range of vases, trays, dishes, ashtrays, bowls and artefacts in a wide variety of colours, sometimes intricate, and at other times, pleasing to the eye for its detailed patterns. Surprisingly, her work is full of details which the creator says is not her forte at all.

"I'm not into details, I like my work to look spontaneous," she admits. Petite, soft spoken and just out of her 20s, Aarti remains devoted to her art and constantly "experiments and fails too." Nothing pleases her more than to create something out of clay she sources from Gujarat.

MOULDING MAGIC: Aarti Vir at work.

Watching her knead the dough before setting it on to the wheel, we wonder if this isn't a lot like cooking? "In fact, it is," says she, "because potters, like good cooks, like to use everything they make. And like cooking, pottery is extremely creative." Her fund of creativity is further enriched every year when Aarti goes back to Pondicherry for a workshop where she learns new techniques from her teachers, Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith at the Golden Bridge Pottery Institute.

Already rich with the techniques she has learnt, she has covered her workshop rooms with beautiful artefacts - often a blend of colour with technique, style with shape - created specially for three forthcoming exhibitions, soon to be held at Mumbai, Chennai and in the city too. That apart, there is also the excitement of baking clay shapes in her large kiln, which is usually a five-day process. This means constant day and night supervision at the workshop for Aarti as the kiln does its job slowly but thoroughly.

Aarti, however, is undaunted by this as much as her parents and family are understanding and supportive of her ambitions and lifestyle. But when she is home with family, her time is usually spent reading, swimming or painting collages and watercolours.

And no, though she does come from a family of trained Hindustani musicians and singers, she does not share their passion. Her passion is different and so is her whole world. Enter the world of Aarti Vir (3545717/ 98490-53525). It is warm, colourful, muted and beautiful. And inviting.


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