A shot at pot

IMAGINE AN unknown potter in Khurja in the same league as Anjolie Ela Menon or Satish Gujral.

And Turkman Gate's lac artisans selling articles with the latest designs.

Well, if Delhi's Foundation for Arts effort transforms into a success, the imagination would be close to reality.

The four-year-old Foundation dedicated to the cause of art, culture and theatre, has just begun to facilitate a conducive environment to upgrade the skills of these artisans. It organised an auction of ceramic pottery brought from Khurja, stone pottery from Agra, designer pots and pots painted by renowned artists like Anjolie Ela Menon and as obscure as students from College of Arts, Delhi at The Ashok hotel this week to promote pottery.

And also to put the little known potters in the same league as Menon and Jatin Das.

A shot at pot

The collection of the auction would be directed towards the cause of these potters.

For instance, a centre will be established in Khurja to upgrade the skills of the potters who now sell meagrely as their works lack novelty.

Also, a school would be established for the children of these potters.

Informs Manish Aggarwal, a member of the Foundation, "We started this project a year ago. After involving corporate houses in it, we established a centre in Khurja recently in which 200 potters were being enrolled for the advancement of their skills. Now, stone workers in Agra, who are living in hazardous conditions, will be taught the latest technique by established artists and designers."

Rehabilitation bid

Not only that, lac artisans at Delhi's Turkman Gate will also be benefited by the Foundation's scheme. A centre to teach the latest technique in lac designs that can cater to the international market will be established soon. And the children of these artists will be given basic education, he adds.

At the auction, the highest bid of Rs.2.6 lakh went for Menon's platter followed by Rs.2 lakh for the pot painted by Jatin Das. Pots designed by artists Chand Mohammad, Rajesh Rana and Arpana Caur were auctioned for Rs.65,000, 46,000 and 20,000, respectively. Stage designer and artist Naresh Kapuria sold his pot for Rs.10,000 and got 10 orders too.

At the sale section, fixed priced pots from Khurja and Agra ranging between Rs.100 and 10,000 were displayed. In a charged atmosphere of bidding and buying,

Satish Gujral was not quite convinced with the idea. "It seems like a fashion. Big organisations do not give any money to actual potters. To me, it all seems a gimmick," he commented.

But Navina Jafa from the Foundation assured, "We have already prepared a business catalogue of these pots. We are approaching different ministries and countries like U.K. etc, to arrange a buyers' meet and then expose artisans to the export market within this year.

The idea is to give holistic development to these potters and their children and help them perpetuate the art."