As my original training is in Indian classical dance, my work in clay is inspired by the dancer in me. Naturally, I see several parallels between the artforms. My approach to work, the preoccupation with the form and process, and the need to connect with the audience or clients, command much importance within my practice.
Like dance, clay is a delightful source of abundant lightness and energy for me. Just the simple act of throwing a pot on the wheel, centres me and rejuvenates me however exhausted or emotionally scattered I might be. It brings me together to a place of calm quietness. A contained space where one feels totally connected with the world within and without. This is the quality I am forever striving to capture within my pots. When one holds the pot, it should evoke that quality within oneself, that quality that is a source of deep well-being.
Why clay? Because this sticky, messy stuff transforms you effortlessly to your better self, where you
are more open, and drop all your self-imposed limitations and baggage temporarily. Clay brings out the child in you -a space to be open with ease, be curious, tease, play and express for its own sake. This is my experience every time I touch the stuff. Clay has this unique ability to connect and transcend age, gender and culture. I would love to cultivate this attractive trait within myself.
So, why is the client important to me? I don’t know about you but for me, when I am inspired by something, I am desperate to share it with others! In a strange way it seems to expand the joy or sense of fulfilment I receive from it. This is why I enjoy performing or teaching dance. It is the same with pots. I enjoy the process of making so much that I am desperate to share it with others. To be honest it is the process that captivates me. The finished pot is a consolidated expression of
What is it about the process that is so engaging you may ask? The process includes my dialogue with the clay in all its colourful traits; my choice of stories to tell about the ordinary, yet extraordinary wonders of our world and the human capacity that tug at me; the emotional roller- coaster ride one goes through in one’s quest for that elusive notion of perfection; the mini epiphanies and frustrations. The process of striving to make a perfect dance or pot is full of drama, a place where my
senses are fully open, and I feel alive and connected to this world. This is the drama I hope my pots capture and enable others to savour with all their senses. This is why I make functional pots. Pots that people can feel, taste, touch and see.
Shall I tell you what I really love about my disciplines? Crafting a dance or a pot requires one to go through the ritual of practice and repetition over years to hone one’s skill. With the ritual of repetition, one enters a hugely immersive and exquisitely rich world of slow time. You see so much more vivid and nuanced detail and alternative ways of doing things. Sometimes, when I get it right, I am moved by it. This engagement in the process is a reward in itself for me.
Finally, why do I do, what I do? The purpose of my work is to primarily share the joy I get from making work with clay. The making process enables me to question my pre-conceived notions, discover fresh perspectives and reaffirm values. All these feed into how I make my life and the choices I make as part this world, as part of this global society. My pots are a way to extend and include others in this on-going dialogue.
I want my clients to feel energised, curious, gently provoked and enjoy the tactile stories only clay can tell!
Devine earthy pots made to perfection... [we] receive so many compliments from guests.
Your thalis and katoris have become a great canvas for my kitchen creations. Today’s Sunday feast was enjoyed with friends and your ceramic thali set. Thanks for this bespoke set, you made for me.
Mira Misra Kaushik
We first saw one of Vidya’s Vengalam pots, at her studio, while taking the Chichester artist tour in 2019. It drew a connection, nebulous but resonant, to something - earthly but remote. Later, it was one of Vidya’s Facebook posts on the pots that inspired us to request a set for an Indo-Anglican table spread. An eclectic collection to hold rice, thoran, salad, roast vegetables...
The pots have remained true to form - tastefully original to guests and us alike... It has rendered us unhindered pleasure since.
Priya & Arun Pillai
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