“Pottery was the outlet I didn’t know I needed,” says Manisha Gopinath, talking about how a hobby eventually turned into an all-consuming passion. “What surprises me even today is that though I can’t draw, I can create 3D images. It came to me so organically, there is no way of explaining how it came about,” adds the sculptor who has been working with ceramics for the past 15 years.
“I was always interested in sculpture, but when we were growing up, unless you were truly an artist or an art student such classes were usually dismissed in favour of academics,” says Bengaluru-based Manisha.
Life, marriage and children took her to different parts of the globe, but it was only when her family was stationed in Dallas, Texas, was she able to tap into this hidden talent. “I was in a space where I needed to do something for myself; I needed a creative outlet. I joined the Creative Arts Centre there, took up pottery classes and I fell in love with it.”
Manisha credits good teachers at the institute who mentored her foray into ceramics. “I can’t express how going in to work there three hours a day changed my life. There is something utterly satisfying about working with your hands, which you don’t realise until you actually get started.”
“While sculpture had always captivated my interest, it seemed rather like zooming from zero to 100. Pottery seemed more doable, more approachable for me. I was thrilled to make a cup to drink my morning tea in and it opened up a world of possibilities.”
She laughs as she remembers how her first workshop in Dallas was at the garage of the home they were staying in. “I would park the car outside and use that area to work. Our address there was No. 2700, and that is why when we relocated to Bangalore in 2016, I named my workshop and gallery in Whitefield, Studio 2700.”
Despite what some may call a late start, Manisha found her groove and eventually transitioned to crafting studio pottery or one-of-a-kind art pieces. Studio pottery differs from production pottery which includes functional products such as cutlery. “Don’t be intimidated by art or creativity because you never know what your calling is or when you will get it in life. When you do, it’s a new beginning, a new chapter of life.”
“Sometimes, you grow into being the person you are. You try different avenues and then you become comfortable with yourself. That’s what happened to me,” says Manisha, adding that she was fortunate to be exposed to a lot of work when she was abroad.
Manisha draws inspiration from the landscape of her ancestral home in Kerala, “the beach, flowers, birds, leaves and trees,” all of which find place in her colour palette of blue and green. Working primarily with stoneware and porcelain, she retains the original colour of wood for a natural look.
Glazes of Nature, her first solo show, comprises about 40 pieces of art Manisha has created over the past two years. “Stoneware is “diva” material as it is delicate and can crack quite easily at various stages of the creative process, You’ve got to be careful, patient and slow, while working with it. The process involves a lot of labour and pain, but the final outcome is amazing.”
“At the end of the day, there is joy in the making of each piece.”
Glazes of Nature will be on display at Gallery Time and Space till December 3.