Bengaluru artist moulds poetry in clay

New Delhi: A Bengaluru-based artist is breaking new ground with a unique form of art that combines pottery and poetry – moulding clay to give physical shape to the soul-searching poetry of Rumi and teachings of Buddha.

Shilpy Gupta, a 41-year old potter and artist, depicts her visualisations of poetry on ceramic platters and bowls that she creates.

Poetry in itself is a powerful medium of expression that compels the reader to spin beautiful images in their minds eye. And Gupta, with careful strokes and bold colours, brings her imagination to life through her project Ceramic Trail.

“My first influence was the traditional Indian potter. I saw them in my hometown and was fascinated by how they were able to turn a ball of clay into a beautiful urn. The magic of that moment stayed with me and eventually drove me to practise the art myself,” Gupta told PTI.

“Any kind of poetry lends itself to various forms of interpretations and I thought of creating my own reflections in the form of pottery and art,” she said.

A former student of Tata Institute of Social Science, Gupta learnt pottery at a studio in the US.
“Once I learnt pottery, I discovered the thrill of creating my own canvas as part of my art pieces,” she said.

She has now set up a fully equipped studio in Bengaluru, where she has been creating art pieces for the last 15 years.

The process of turning clay into a form of art involves multiple steps, each of which may make or break the creation.

When a piece of pottery is taken off the wheel, the artist has to be careful about how it is dried. Under drying or over drying can ruin the finish, making the brush work on it difficult.

The brush work too requires precision as each stroke shows after the final firing, leaving no space for error.
During the final round of firing also, the pieces may get warped or de-shaped, ruining the entire effort.

Gupta says the most enticing part of the process is the fact that despite her long association with clay, wheel, brush and the kiln, it is impossible to predict the final outcome of each piece.

One of her most eye-catching pieces is a ceramic platter depicting three whirling dervishes, dancing with their hands outstretched against the backdrop of the tomb 13th-century Persian poet Rumi.

Accompanying it is Rumis poem: “Both Light and Shadow are the dance of Love.”

“The first whirling dervish platter that I created is my most memorable piece. It was perhaps the first piece that conveyed the emotion clearly for me,” Gupta said.

Gupta has also given form to the inspiring teachings of Buddha and Ibn Batuta. She recently displayed her work at an exhibition in New Delhi, and is planning to showcase two new collections this September in Chennai.