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25 Apr 2019, Edition - 1381, Thursday

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Tamilnadu News

Bid to breathe life into dying art of pottery

Archana Rohit

The tides of time have washed away many civilisations and their existence remains in fragments of pottery. The craft of pottery is believed to be one of the oldest and dying a slow death.

But attempts to breathe life into it are on like that by Preetha Krishnan, owner of Soul Space Studio.

In Tamil Nadu, the dramatic larger-than-life-size image of Aiyanar, the local deity, is surrounded by a sea of attendants, horses and bulls. The gram devtas are seen standing at the entrance of the village as protectors. This shows how integral pottery as an art form was of culture.

There is some interest in the art but people have little time to dedicate for learning it. They see it more as a hobby, says Preetha who teaches this art.

Traditional pottery is different. Varied techniques of forming and shaping are used but there is lack of innovation of new shapes and designs, she observes.

People have chosen refrigerators and fancy utensils for clay pots, despite the latter having an array of varieties. This has made traditional potters move away from their profession. The only time they do business is during festivals that to for small and big lamps. They are losing business to teracotta clay pots. Also, there is a low return on investment and lack of skilled labour. Majority of the potters do not want their next generation to take the lineage forward as it not profitable.

The industry with more than 5,000 years of history has evolved from pottery into the most modem ceramic one with its product diversification, design, appearance, quality, appeal, utility, applicability and durability.

In the last couple of decades, clay has been slowly pushing its way forward and making elbow space in the contemporary Indian art landscape. For a decade now, Indian ceramic artists have broken new ground.

Preetha teaches people different art forms of pottery. On December 1, she is to conduct a workshop ‘Clay Mask’ in association with Meticulous event. The art of mask-making is an expression of traditions, environment, mythology and even imagination, she says.

To improve the overall condition of the pottery industry, it is important to identify the various requirements of different centres and have technological development along with advancement of the centres.

A proper review, analysing needs, gaps and formulating of a proper plan are important, say industry experts.

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