Radhika on Potter’s Market

angeportraitAuroville International Potters’ Market

January 26 – 28, 2017
Visitors Centre, Auroville

Pots and pottery are an integral element of Indian life and domestic culture. Yet ‘art’ pottery– stoneware and studio pottery – has only been here for less than 50 years. On the 26th of January, the third Auroville International Potters’ Market brings together around 30 potters to exhibit and sell their work.

“I was inspired by the English potters’ fairs and markets, where even the most prominent potters show and exhibit their wares,” explains Auroville potter Ange Peter, who has organised all three fairs. “The markets are also common in Japan, where young and old potters all stand together to show and sell their work. And now there are potters’ markets all over India too, although some of the more prominent potters are still reluctant to stand alongside the newer arrivals in the field. Galleries in India are very expensive, and these markets provide a major viewing and selling point for ceramics.”

At the Auroville market a number of local village potters will also be showing their work in earthenware; but Peter and other potters work in stoneware, which is less porous and more long lasting than pottery made purely from local Indian clay. Stoneware in India was introduced in Delhi by Gurjaran Singh in the early 50’s and, in Pondicherry, in the early 70’s by Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith, with whom Peter completed her training in addition to a later apprenticeship in Japan.

“In the beginning, people were shocked to see ceramics priced on the same level as other art work,” she says. “But overall, pottery is increasingly well-received in India and by collectors. In my own work, everything is made from scratch in the traditional manner. There’s a tendency today to buy ready-made clay, rather than make your own composite, and to find shortcuts but if you understand the original materials and the whole process of drying and packing, and the wood you are cutting and stacking to fire your pot, every step on the way shows in your work. There are so many variables – pots can crack, glazes can run and things can warp; you are working with nature, with fire, and earth and in my case a lot with the ashes from the forest trees. A bowl speaks to you of its whole creation.” At the market there will be a demo tent where participants will be demonstrating their technique and a children’s corner, where children can go and play and work with clay.

“Bringing the potters together is important and for me, it’s also a cultural event for the people of Auroville,” Peter concludes. It’s an offering to the potters of an opportunity t showcase their work and an offering to Auroville to host this event. People come here for many reasons, and here they come together to learn about alternative ways of doin pottery.”

By Radhika H for Auroville Art Service

Photo Credit: Marco Saroldi

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