Brahmdeo Ram Pandit, was born in 1949 in Bhorambaug Village District, Nawada, Bihar. He began his training in pottery in 1969 at Sekho Devra Ashram, Kawakole, Nawada, Bihar, creating irrigation clay pipes and went on to be trained at Khadi Village Pottery Institute, Khanapur, Belgaum; an apprenticeship under Potter Shri l.R Ajgaonkar in Mumbai; Pottery Craft & Handicrafts Teachers Training College in Mumbai and Regional Pottery Training Centre, Gram Udyog Sangh, Bhadrawati Chandarpur. He studied clay sculpture and modelling at Sir J.J.School of Art, Mumbai and later at Lalit Kala Akademi, Garhi, New Delhi.
Panditji as he is so lovingly called, is the hero for the family; the teacher who made clay a love for them all. Panditji and his wife, Devki, spent hours in their modest studio atmosphere working with this traditional craft that Panditji was so determined to revive. Abhay and Shailesh were in the studio right from their cradle watching their parents’ dedication and passion for clay.
Panditji had grit, determination and a vision to move beyond being a traditional kumbhar from Bihar; however never once compromising on his values or forgetting his roots. He trained through various governmental schemes in the Khadi Village Pottery Institutes in Khanapur and Bhadrawati to set up his own workshop in Bhayandar, where he resides. He slowly introduced glazing techniques, taking a leap step from traditional to contemporary studio pottery.
Panditji was declared a Padmashree Awardee on 26th January, 2013 by the Government of India for his lifelong contribution and excellence in the field of Pottery-Ceramic Art. President Shri Pranab Mukherjee honoured Brahmdeo Ram Pandit with the Padmashree on 5th April, 2013 at Rashtrapathi Bhavan in New Delhi.
Besides being a Padmashree awardee, Panditji has under his belt the Bihar Pravashi Shree Award, Shilp Guru, Ministry of Textiles (Handicrafts) Award,
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Lifetime Award, Paramparik Karigar Award,
Mira Bhayander Gaurav Puraskar, Smt. Kamla Mehta School for the Blind - Lifetime Award, Maharashtra Rajya Purashkar, Lifstyle and Cultural Award by City Board of Education of Yokohama in Japan, Maharashtra State Award,
Maharashtra Rajya Hastkala Mandal Prize, Maharashtra Rajya Hastkala Pardarshan Award - Kolhapur Prastipatra, Maharashtra Rajya Hastkala Mandal Udyog Sanchalaya Award – Mumbai, Maharashtra Udyog Sanchalaya State Award, Maharashtra State Award and 13th Maharashtra State Kala Exhibition, Rajya Puraskar.
The mainstay for the family, from the eighties, is making Ikebana and Bonsai pottery in unglazed and glazed ceramics. Along with that, Panditji worked selflessly to promote a wider understanding of ceramics as an art and used his skills to introduce a form of therapy for blind students at the Kamla Mehta School for the Blind in Dadar. A teacher at heart, Panditji worked with Sophia College and conducted various workshops organized by leading craft organisations like Paramparik Karigar; and others in Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar and Mumbai; as well as by the Indian Government in Yokohama, Madrid, Frankfurt and Lagos. His works have been exhibited all over India and his collectors are scattered all over the world.
His smiling gentle manner; his spirit; his openness to new ideas and techniques; his spirit of enthusiasm, proved the versatility of a man who was brought up with upright traditional values could be enthusiastic about change, innovation, creativity and higher learning. He learnt from what he saw, from what he experienced, from what he heard and it was this learning that made him into the true artist that he is today, connected to traditional materials and techniques but adopting and incorporating new glazes and producing what turns out to be simply spectacular! His values have created a very strong platform for Abhay and Shailesh.
Devkiji is the pivot around whom the three Pandit men revolve. She is the backbone of the studio, helping Panditji on the wheel whilst carrying out her own glazing and firing. Silently going about her task in the studio, without asking for praise or recognition, she nurtures to see everyone flourish.
Abhay was born in 1978 and has built his reputation as one of India’s leading contemporary ceramic artists. Trained at Sir J. J. School of Art in Applied Arts, he honed his skills with an apprenticeship with Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith of the Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry, imbibing a sensitivity to stoneware clay, new making techniques and wood firing in the Japanese style with adapted wood firing kilns that work in semi-urban settings. Here he was introduced to salt firings and later, when on a Charles Wallace Trust scholarship to study ceramics in the UK, he apprenticed with some of Britain’s finest – Peter Beard and David Roberts- whose soda and raku firings have influenced and transformed into his own style of work which is largely influenced by the playful textures of water and sand. To further his education in the field, Abhay studied Raku Smoke Ceramics under British ceramic artist, David Roberts in Yorkshire, England. His works have been exhibited all over India.
Shailesh was born in 1982 and studied ceramic art in Golden Bridge Pottery under Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith at Pondicherry and later went on to study the art of Bonsai Ceramics in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Khushboo joined the family as Abhay’s wife and soon moved into the same circle, spending her days in the studio. Her art and creativity brought an aesthetic touch to the traditional pots. Her enthusiasm led her to study Raku Smoke Ceramics under British ceramic artist, David Roberts in Yorkshire, England.
The Pandits recently completed their first large scale public ceramic mural display based on the element of water for the Mumbai International Airport.
Showcasing this body of works brings excitement and gratitude as many of the ceramic art pieces are made with British White Porcelain Valentines Clay gifted to Panditji by Mr. Alan Ault from England.
The greatest gift that Panditji has given his family – his strong belief in their ability!