B.R. Pandit and
Abhay Pandit his elder son.
As one of India’s most distinguished potters, B.R. Pandit –respectfully called Panditji- patriarch and mentor of his potter family, looks back on his past and at the present in this exhibition. The display invites us to enjoy his sparkling red copper-reduction glazed pots, the mottled blue soda-fired glazed pots and the incredibly even `chatter marked’ pots that bear his quintessential touch in their forms and glazes. Also on display are pots that speak of the skill and creativity of son Abhay .
Panditji hail from families of traditional potters who practised pottery in its long-established forms and techniques in their village in Bihar. Panditji grew up surrounded by nature and a rural ethos before he travelled to Belgaum and then moved to Mumbai in 1971. Abhay born in Mumbai, grew up living on the fringes of the metropolis, tuned into its rhythm as well as to the hum of the wheel and the fragrance of firing. Before long they answered the call of clay and turned into full-time potters each honing his skills at the wheel and at the studio platform, persistently working with clay, experimenting with glazes and firing techniques
After moving to Mumbai, Panditji built his studio in Bhayander where during the past three decades he has shaped amazingly fluid forms at the wheel, achieved striking glazes, and created superb textures on his pots. An acknowledged master of glazes, Panditji has generously shared his knowledge and experience with students and aspiring potters; he has participated in exhibitions and travelled to different cities in India and in Japan to attend and conduct workshops.
Abhay trained under Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith, acclaimed American potters at Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry, and also assisted them at their studio. Abhay is strong in thrown forms –Abhay loves to create textures with the wire-cut technique, tools and now by adding fine strips of clay;
In 2005, Abhay received a scholarship from the Charles Wallace India Trust, through the British Council, and apprenticed under eminent ceramist Peter Fraser Beard in the U.K., whose guidance and encouragement spurred him to experiment with different techniques and move forward from the conventional wire-cut technique. Abhay now focuses on affixing thin coils to surfaces -which are then gently tapped -to create textures and compositions, and enhances their stunning effect through a play of glazes. After meeting with potters Ashraf Hanna and Tim Andrews, and his seeing the work of David Roberts, Abhay conveyed the beauty of smoke-firing to his family.
The beauty of the pots exhibited –individually and collectively- reminds us of the skill inherent in the hands of the Pandits, their constant endeavours to create and articulate, their inheritance and their aspirations. Their pottery conveys that the vibrant and living crafts tradition of India, passed down generations, can most hearteningly flourish in the 21st century milieu that is so distinct from the context in which traditional potters worked. It is the enduring strength of an unbroken heritage and equally a quest to continually create that carries the Pandits pottery forward and keeps them centred as they travel in India and overseas, attend and hold workshops, present exhibitions, interact with artists and people drawn from varied walks of life, and offer us these marvelous creations to enjoy.