Pottery artist Priyanka Joshi, who will host her first solo exhibition in the city, creates beautiful pieces by combining coiling technique and stoneware
City-based pottery artist Priyanka Joshi has been exploring the ancient coiling technique, using stoneware clay. She is now hosting her solo exhibition titled Coiled at Gyaan Adab. A Commerce graduate from Symbiosis, Joshi was introduced to pottery in the hobby class of well-known artist Sujata Dharap, and has been a professional in the field for the last seven to eight years. We caught up with her prior to the show. Excerpts:
Can you explain coiling and stoneware clay?
It’s an ancient technique in pottery, one of the first ones invented by man, before the advent of the wheel. It’s long hand-rolling of clay, varying in diameter from millimetres to inches. The idea is to stack the coils up together to create a pot. We start with the base and swirl it around with the coils to make a pot.
Clay is basically silica, which can be subdivided into various forms. Stoneware is a low temperature clay. Unlike earthenware or teracotta which are nature based, stoneware is manmade. It can be heated to a maximum of 1,200 degree C.
How is coiling different from other pottery techniques and what made you take it up?
The general technique of pottery is wheel-thrown, which can be either electric or manual. You can easily pull pots on a wheel using the centrifugal force. Unlike that, coiling is handmade, layer by layer and time consuming. With the wheel, you are limited to a certain degree in terms of shape and finish. I am the kind of person who likes to feel the object instead of having the piece kept in the showcase. Coiling is a more sensory thing. In my work, I don’t hide the coils. I like to expose it to create versatility in designs and patterns and shapes.
Where have you exhibited before?
Earlier, I had exhibited a few of these pieces at Kala Ghoda festival, Mumbai, and Renaissance Art Gallery, Pune, in 2016.
In this electronic age, what value does art hold?
It holds massive importance. No denying that we are connected with technology, faster and quicker. But art has always existed, since the early ages, where caves had carvings on the walls. Currently, art is more prevalent because of the fact that we are losing the sense of touch. Now more than anything, pottery is something to look at, since it’s a very ancient technique and yet so relevant. With the way modernisation is happening, it is one of those mediums that can cross boundaries and ideologies.
From where did you get the inspiration to pursue pottery?
It was my mentor, the late Ajit Vaidya, who has been the biggest influence. His wife still runs the studio — Irshalgadh, at old Mumbai-Pune Highway. Also, Mansimran Singh and his wife Mary have been my mentors.
What do you think about the art scene in Pune?
Art is growing in Pune, and people are becoming more aware. But it needs to have more exhibitions. People are slightly conservative here, and very literary oriented; they enjoy plays, literature and music.
Do you have plans to explore other pottery techniques?
The next medium I am planning to explore is the combination of coiling and slab. It has very sharp geometric aspects, and will involve moulding elements like flowery work with some slab.
How do you go about creating awareness about this art?
I conduct a three-day workshop in the month of August-September at D Y Patil School of Architecture annually. Also, I think workshops and hobby classes play a major role in creating awareness. We also need to have art classes as part of the school curriculum. I am planning to start my own workshops by February next year.
What message would you like to give to young artists?
As an artist, I would like to say, continue exploring. Art is an infinite field which has to be explored. Come out of your comfort zone and set new trends.