In a previous post I mention the interesting but often problematic sharing of designs and influences across continents and cultures. Well at the recent Ceramics Biennial in Stoke on Trent, there was an exhibition of Kutchi pottery – the genuine pieces along with the story of the pots and their makers. The curators A Fine Line and ceramicist Maham Anjun did well to arrange the shipping of hundreds of delicate pots, during which only the odd one was broken. The logistical problems of exhibiting pots rather than textiles, means pots are less known about and the community making them in the northern-most part of Kutch which visitors need permits to visit mean the artisans get little exposure in a wider market which is the only viable market now their local one has declined.
It brought back memories of seeing the amazing potters and their work when I was over in Kutch. The potters are one of the lowest-positioned and poorest communities of the region, yet they are highly skilled craftspeople. Nowadays their skills are at risk of being lost due to the increase in availability of plastic and the most popular and cheapest crockery material of all – steel.
Potters don’t traditionally paint patterns on the pots like this for everyday pots, but had been commissioned to do so for this exhibition. A lot of the patterns show similarity to the region’s embroidery and depicts objects of everyday surrounings.
I hope there will be more exhibitions like this or perhaps we will start to see more of these beautiful objects in shops or markets here like we do the textiles. On chatting to one of the organisers, a ceramacist currently based at RCA, I found that she knew Carole, the leader of the tour I went on for my first trip to Kachchh and where I met these potters.
While back in india this time I bumped into Carole while watching a concert of traditonal local music. I noticed that one musician was using one of these pots for percussion – the gada, along with the gambela, an iron vessel used for carrying clothes.