Idiom Digger in a Vast Clay Field

Puducherry sculptor makes her own clay by picking ingredients from across India

Published: 11th April 2015 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2015 11:42 AM   |  A+A-

Supriya Menon Meneghetti welcomes you into her studio cum home in Auroville Puducherry, with tousled hair, and an attire that screams ‘work in progress’. “My work grows organically where forms happen and the form is given importance, be it out of terracotta, stoneware or porcelain. I enjoy painting on some forms and I paint usually in black and white. On others, I use colour, quite a bit of it!” The Gallery at INKO Centre, Chennai recently held an exhibition of her works

According to Supriya, the subconscious stores images, and expressions. She adds, “Anything that serves as a theme —sunshine, children, flowers, anger, sadness—all that is part of me waiting to be expressed in my art”.

Idiom.jpgSupriya studied ceramics from 1994 to 1995 from Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith at Golden Bridge Pottery in Puducherry and has since been teaching beginners pottery in her studio. She works with terracotta, stoneware and porcelain using gas and electric firing. At Golden Bridge she learnt wheel —throwing, glazing and firing —the basic skills for making high temperature functional ceramics. She has combined these skills with her graphic art into her pottery. “The first step in the procedure is getting the right clay or using a mixture in the right proportions. It then undergoes wedging, drying, bisque firing, glazing and again fired at a temperature of 1,300 degrees centigrade, then cooled and is ready for use. The glaze is a mixture of ground glass, clay, colouring material and water in which a brush is dipped and applied to the bisque pot or this can be done by spraying, sponging or pouring too, or by a combination of techniques.” She  makes her own clay in her studio following a recipe and sourcing material for it from all over India. Supriya is B.Com graduate from Bangalore university. “I did it at the insistence of my mother but was always interested in painting as a child and have painted in oils on canvas, quite a lot of it.” Supriya was trained and worked in graphic designing for an advertising company in Chennai. Winning the Charles Wallace award in the year 2000 enabled her to study ceramics under Sandy Brown in UK. “With ceramics, once you get bitten by the bug, you just can’t get away from it,” she says. Temperature-control is vital for the conversion from clay to the finished product. Colours like brown and orange are derived from wood-ash firing”. “Why train under Sandy Brown when she had already studied ceramics at Golden Bridge in 1994?”

Supriya explains that she worked with an entirely different concept in Golden Bridge. “The forms were preconceived and it was easy but with Sandy Brown, nothing is preconceived and you rely entirely on your subconscious to do the job which was very challenging”. She has participated in a number of workshops by Susan Peterson, Jim Danisch, Mike Dodd and Sandy Brown at Golden Bridge from 1997 to 2001 and also attended the Wheel Conference at the Royal Dean College of Forest, Wales, UK.

Later this year Supriya will be working as resident artist with Mirta Morigi in Faenza, Italy. After she lost a part of her studio in the 2004 tsunami, she decided to take up Ikebana as well. She has been training with Valeria Raso Matsumoto in Auroville. Her home at Auroville bears her artistic touch in vases, and seapods — symbolic to “nomadic life” and other pieces. The colourful brushed markings give her home the ‘finishing touch”. “Pottery is magical,” she asserts.“I am connected to the process of creating—a medium for expression”.


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