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NO GLASS ceiling for her

Molten glass turns into a fascinating range of shapes in Srila Mookherjee's dexterous hands

Srila Mookherjee: `I am thinking about a studio line for lifestyle stores.'

IT'S ALL a hot shapeless mass to begin with. But it turns into wonderful windows and wine glasses in the skilful hands of Srila Mookherjee. Based in Kolkata, Srila is one of the few art glass blowers of India, and hopes that this rare skill would be recognised as an academic specialisation in university education some day.

Intricate job

Glass blowing is an intricate affair. It involves blowing through an iron pipe small quantities of molten glass that burns at 1,200 degrees Centigrade. And then wet newspapers are used to shape the surface of the glass. The result could be a bulb, a platter or a wing glass.

Srila says that she had seen the process of glass blowing as a child and she had always admired the large collection of glass, two factors that inspired her to take to the profession. But her intiation into the field actually began with ceramics. "I studied ceramics at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, in 1983, and moved on to Finland where I studied and worked in ceramics studios. Later, I shifted to London which is where I really learnt art-glass blowing." She worked there with Glasshouse and Anthony Stern Glass.

Srila's own favourite glass is lead crystal glass since it melts at lower temperatures and has "a high refractive index and gives a lot of synthetic quality to the piece". Her works, currently on display at the Mahua Art Gallery, showcases bowls, platters and bottles. They are in colours ranging from rust, green and purple to pale yellow. The motifs are of plants and animals are aplenty.

Considering that being minimalist is in fashion in all forms of art, one wonders if Srila plans to move in that direction, moving beyond traditional creations such as vessels and glasses to things that would fit into a modern home. She confesses that she is not exactly minimalist in her approach right now. "I am thinking about a studio line for lifestyle stores. Maybe later this year," Srila says.

She has her own art-glass blowing studio, Aakriti, in Kolkata, set up in 1989. She has had her works exhibited in studios abroad as individual and group shows and in galleries here too. She is lucky that her enterprise has been lucrative one, since it costs a lot to keep a furnace burning at that high degree of heat.

No backup

Taking to glass blowing in a country that has a course in it only at NID, Ahmedabad, and is yet to have it as a specialisation in any university, is commendable. What makes it even more difficult is that it is an expensive proposition and comes with no institutional backup.

What drives Srila, who has been an art-glass blower for over 15 years, is her own commitment and acumen, besides solid family support.

Srila's art-glass works are on view at the Mahua Art Gallery, Leela Palace, Airport Road, till April 11. For more information call 51265229 or 25211234.


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