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Classy creations in clay

PUSHPA CHARI

Smaranika Singh Deo's collection of coiled pottery compels attention at an exhibition, on till April 18 at Manasthala.

THE WORLD'S first artefacts were probably made by man millions of years ago out of clay and burnt in bonfires, in much the same way as coiled pottery is made today, with dexterity of human hands as the only tool and technique.

Smaranika Singh Deo carries forward that age-old tradition. She is a coiled pottery maker, the distinctiveness of whose work lies in the original shapes and ornamentation done skilfully on the raw ware.

Says Smaranika, "In wheel pottery, you take a lump of clay, throw it into the wheel to create a shape. Here, you make a coil of clay, join coils one above the other and then get a shape, using just your hands."

At an exhibition-cum-sale currently on at Manasthala, an interesting array of her coiled creations compel attention in warm colours. Drawing inspiration from African, Egyptian and rural Indian imagery, Smaranika has created a range of table bases, floor and table lamp bases, masks pots and urns, totem poles and cutlery holders.

The table bases and lamp stands are unique both in style, concept and embellishment. The base could be a monolithic coiled slab in contemporary geometric shapes. The exquisite sculpting varies from Indian rural imagery against lovely forest backdrops, marriage processions to Egyptian art figures and vignettes of life in Africa.

Gracefully sculpted faces of women are a recurring theme as are impressions of prehistoric cave art, Warli tribal art and so on. The collection is vibrant, delicately executed and exclusive.

The range of pots, urns and masks makes interesting statements with strong overtones of African art, particularly the masks. The compelling warrior masks have strong, fierce expressions and come in elongated shapes as well. The pots, many of which are embellished with female faces or shaped like a puppet, are decorated with colourful ceramic beads and ropes. The coiled pottery collection includes a variety of intriguing spoon holders.

The terracotta exhibition, on at Manasthala , 12 Cenotaph Road, Alwarpet, is on till April 18.

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