I consider myself to be a self- taught artist, fascinated with traditional as well as contemporary, mix- media art. There is a sense of inquisitiveness in my approach to art, so that I am never afraid to get my hands dirty when it comes to experimentation with diverse material and media. The significant reason to take up an opportunity to intern at Aura Pottery is an innate affinity to nature and related elements in my art exploration. Most of my artworks are an examination of where traditional art assimilated with digital medium, hence Aura Pottery is a perfect avenue to bring out the amalgam of ceramics and digital media art.
These last four weeks in aura pottery has been a fulfilling journey with regard to learning pottery and staying at the art residency. Aura pottery located on the periphery of Chandigarh city is a solitary harbor to find an introspective nook for oneself. Hence, for me it served as a place to must visit near Chandigarh.
Aura pottery is a utopian pottery holiday, immensely green - enclosed with organic kitchen gardens. The farm holds two ponds where I mostly sit by and look at the streaming fishes inside and write about my dreamy thoughts. Aura grows its own organic veggies and being able to smell fresh fruit and vegetables is an added incentive. The stay in the villa exudes warmth and comfort, the rooms are around a courtyard catering the tropical artsy feeling. In between contemplating breaks I sit in hammock, gaze at the fluttering butterflies. Chilling by the pool and playing with Fifi, Bosh and Bono (in-house pet dogs) maintain my sanity throughout a day. I’ve experienced the moments of serene beauty during this stay while taking a walk around nearby mosque at dusk.
The Studio inside Aura is a very open airy space, surrounded by variety of trees adorned by flock of birds. It is an incubatory space where I learn pottery, develop ideas as well as I try to impart my learning of contemporary art to the craft. The studio reminds me of a concept called “querencia” which resonates very well with me. The word originates from Spanish word ‘querer’ which means ‘to desire’.
Ernest Hemingway wrote a non-fiction book called ‘Death in the Afternoon’. Writing on bullfighting he says, “A querencia is a place the bull naturally wants to go to in the ring, a preferred locality... It is a place which develops in the course of the fight where the bull makes his home. It does not usually show at once, but develops in his brain as the fight goes on. In this place he feels that he has his back against the wall and in his querencia he is inestimably more dangerous and almost impossible to kill.” While bullfighting is certainly an odd metaphor in the context of my experience with art, Mr. Hemingway’s description made two things stick with me. One, the need to feel ‘safer’, to desire an alternate space where you feel at ease and at home. Two, the surety and strength such a space provides for being mentally secure; and thus, be more imaginative and autonomous and wilful in art. Somehow I think most about Querencia when I think of art within nature and that is how I think about the studio in aura.
I’ve indulged in a string of production based stoneware pieces that have enabled me to learn hand building techniques like slab building, pinch technique and coiling. I’ve learnt a way to express myself through these processes.Through this journey of learning pottery as a beginner, I managed to adapt the nature of clay. Clay is the sincerest medium of expression; has a memory and bounds the maker with love. The pleasure of building a ceramic piece requires pure affection. Building a piece utilizes every fleck of zest of a maker, it does not demand perfection but honesty. The complete devotion to the process of making provides me the meditative space, that is where I think art and therapy intersects.
I make vases everyday through slab building. When I make them I feel content. When I see a crack in them I feel broken. I am in a space where one day I validate myself and the very next day I am anxious and doubting the building skill. But, along the way I am learning to let go and constantly remind me that everything that comes from the earth eventually returns and prepares itself for a romantic rebirth.
Aura gives me a curative space to introspect both mentally and bodily and it is an opportunity to release emotions to reconcile with the lost self through art.