Kala Ghoda Festival: Shaping New Forms at The Potter’s Wheel

As the Kala Ghoda fest spills onto the pavement outside Jehangir art gallery, where you usually see new artists display their works, it is hard to miss the purple umbrellas under which 27 studio potters have displayed their wares for sale at the Kala Ghoda festival. Colorful vases, pots, trays, toys, oil diffusers, tea-light holders, candle stands and more line these stalls. As I walk across each stall examining the craft, there is a small crowd gathered around a live demonstration. A young lady at the potter’s wheel takes a lump of clay and before you know it, as you stand there mesmerized by the movement of the wheel, a small pot takes shape and she places it to dry, gently on the table next to her.

As I speak with Anjani Khanna, one of the coordinators of this market, I find out that this is only the fourth year that the Studio Potters’ Market has been running at Kala Ghoda. It runs only on the two weekends. The number has grown from 10 potters in 2009 to 27 potters on the first weekend and about 30 on the second weekend of the Kala Ghoda festival this year. Potters participating from all over India get a chance to step out of the studio for a weekend, interact with each other and display and sell creations. Some of them are self-taught, some have learnt from private tutors and others at institutions like J.J. School of Art and Raheja Institute.

Shruti, who runs Mrudgandh ceramics, is participating for the first time. She says she is really enjoying the experience and the Rs. 2000 participation fee is completely worth it. Another potter from Mumbai explains to me that most of the potters use electric kilns as gas kilns may not be very safe to use in their Studios. Anjani explains that the criteria for participation is not very strict as long as these are not industrial enterprises and the purpose of the Studio Potters’ market is to encourage participation and to see more potters every year.

On this bright sunny Sunday, I speak to Preet Bhargava, who participated in the fest in 2010 and thoroughly enjoyed herself. She was thrilled by the response and sold almost everything. I fortunately did get myself a very pretty oil diffuser from her stand.

The Studio Potters’ Market will be back during the weekend of Feb 11-12 with more potters, so make sure you don’t miss it.

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