Head to Terrapondy: Puducherry’s pottery market

The Republic Day weekend will see contemporary studio potters unite for the first edition of Terrapondy

January 12, 2018 01:45 pm | Updated January 15, 2018 11:08 am IST

“The prevalence of craft is a sign of a society’s health,” believes Puneet Brar, one of the organisers of Terrapondy — a studio potters market making its debut in Puducherry this month. Bringing together over 16 contemporary potters from Chennai and the seaside town, it will feature a wide range of functional ceramic styles: earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.

From the studios

When Ange Peter — the brain behind the annual Auroville International Potters’ Market — decided to skip the event’s 2018 edition due to personal reasons, Puducherry-based potter, Ranjita Bora, started work on Terrapondy. While Auroville is synonymous with pottery, she says people in Puducherry are unaware of studio potters. “Most people know of large-scale production pottery units such as Golden Bridge Pottery, where I studied. Studio potters handle a smaller body of work that has scope for experimentation, and no two products are the same,” says Bora, who worked as a chef in India and England for nine years before chancing upon a clay hobby class. Terrapondy, she says, is aimed at making ceramics more accessible, encouraging people to ask questions about the art form, and promoting themselves as individual potters.

Brar, who owns Windglaze, a pottery studio in Puducherry, moved to the region 17 years ago. “I came here for the pottery. Not for the ashram or Aurobindo, but for the love of the art form,” says the NID graduate, who is currently working on a line of ceramic jewellery. She adds, “Pottery has been an integral part of this town for the last 30 to 40 years. Tourism has been a huge part of our calendar and we (the organisers) see a growing interest in pottery. Therefore, hosting such an event was important.”

By the sea

The town not only has its distinctive French aesthetic, but also a noted spiritual angle. Which is why the market’s location had to be prominent. The Maison Colombani, where it will be held, blends Puducherry’s French flavours and history, with the love for the sea. “The structure’s aesthetic and location speak for itself. A part of the building opens to the sea and its heritage value adds to the appeal,” says Brar, who is known for her calligraphy and block-printed ware such as incense holders, bowls, and kulhars and dabrahs.

Auroville-based Rakhee Kane, who runs the studio Aavartan, specialises in ceramic platters, tableware and mugs, and terracotta toys. “I enjoy working on large platters and treat them as a canvas on which I can experiment with various techniques and colours. I also work on thematic sculptural pieces in ceramic and porcelain,” says Kane, who has been working with clay since 2003. She is also gearing up for a porcelain pottery show to be held in Delhi in March.

Reaching out

Seeing how many people are keen on learning pottery today, Brar says the art form is no longer considered to be just a stress buster. Many are interested in bettering themselves now, and crash courses are popular among tourists and others. Golden Bridge Pottery, for instance, has several short courses and a seven-month intensive course in ceramics. Brar also conducts workshops for beginners at her studio.

However, she explains that it isn’t an inexpensive activity. “Pottery is investment-heavy, but initiatives such as community kilns are a possibility. If potters can rent kilns by the hour, it makes the process easier and cheaper,” she concludes.

From January 26 to 28, between 10 am and 6 pm, at Maison Colombani, Rue Dumas, Puducherry.

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