Life & Style

Experiment with pottery and screen printing at this Chennai studio

Screen printing is among many courses offered at the studio

Screen printing is among many courses offered at the studio | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Few places feel as aptly named as Studio Serendip. I wander into the airy inside-outside space and follow the sound of laughter to a lush, green lawn where a group of adults are getting their hands creatively dirty, spinning pottery wheels. The garden is in full bloom with bananas, ginger flowers and heliconias, with more colour splashes offered by brightly-hued fish in a koi pond.

The pottery students are the latest of over 280 adult learners who have enrolled for short, but focused, art courses at Studio Serendip, in Kotturpuram. The classes are all conducted by artists, and upcoming courses over the summer include pottery, screen printing, 3D sculpture and cyanotype.

Studio Serendip

Studio Serendip | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Sara Vetteth started Studio Serendip in early 2021, after the first lockdown, as a way to restore some creative balance to the city. Vetteth is an artpreneur who also founded RainbowFish Studio, the in-school and after-school art programme, and the non-profit Indian Art and Design Educators Association.

As for Studio Serendip, Vetteth is clear about its DNA — no one-day courses or art birthdays, for example. This is a space for adult enrichment classes that offer deeper artistic engagement, not one-off experiences. “Studio Serendip belongs to the artist,” says Vetteth, who designed it as a safe space where artist-teachers and adult-learners come together to explore their creativity.

Each course is 10 sessions long, either once or twice a week, and costs about ₹1,200 per session. Says Vetteth, “At the end of a course, learners will have the skills and confidence to continue to build on their learnings."

This is true for Shrishti Selvam, freelance artist/graphic designer, who enjoyed learning “the entire process of screen printing, down to the last detail, over my five days there”. She has since bought the necessary materials to continue printing at home.

The reasons for doing an art enrichment class are often just to unwind. Dr. Vignesh Srinivasalu, who works at ICMR – National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis, says pottery classes are “extremely therapeutic and help me take my mind off everything else.”

Over the course of the classes, however, “in a strange way, I ended up transferring a lot of the techniques and skills that I learnt as a doctor to my pottery and sculpture.”

Pottery is one of the most popular courses here, currently into its 32nd beginner’s batch with ceramist Thiagarajan. He says, “I hugely benefited by teaching here during the pandemic; it gave me the chance to sustain my art practice when schools were closed.”

Artistic collaborations both in and out of the studio are unplanned but happy outcomes of this creative hub. Studio Serendip’s manager Niranjana Jawahar mentions how an interior designer and textile manufacturer ended up in the same Screen Printing 101 course. Their common interests got them talking, and they are currently working on a design project together.

Vetteth is pragmatic about the project: “Such classes are viable only if you don’t want to ‘make money’ from them. At Serendip, two-thirds of the fees are given to the artist, the rest used just to run the place.” Vetteth owns the premises of Studio Serendip, and does not charge the artists any fee to use the space.

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 7:23:04 pm |