“Any form of art is therapeutic. It helps you forget all other problems, and concentrate on the present,” says Sangeetha Ramakrishnan.
One look around the artist’s recently opened terracotta modelling and pottery studio Shades of Clay in Saibaba Colony proves her statement right.
On a recent visit, kids of all ages gather around her as she teaches them how to create shapes and designs out of terracotta clay.
The children are completely absorbed in their task as they pinch the clay, coil it, pound it, roll it, and create textures on it with their fingers and nails.
For those attempting pottery, while the clay on the wheel may turn out to be a damp mess in the beginning, good results are assured with many retrials. “Clay is an interesting medium that is very responsive to touch,” says Sangeeetha, who has six years of experience working with children. “The possibilities of modelling clay are endless, and children get to exercise their creativity by creating simple objects.”
She uses terracotta instead of artificial clay to keep participants as close to nature as possible.
While it may look like a fun assignment, clay modelling and pottery also has some essential ground rules, says Sangeetha. “Techniques and rules have to be followed without which any sculpture or pot would fall apart,” she says.
This interesting mix helps instil in children a sense of creative abandon while also disciplining them. It is also a great activity for children who are differently-abled.
At Shades of Clay, Sangeetha dabbles in not just clay-modelling but also pottery.
Students get a chance to develop ideas and create their own original pieces of art. “We work on figurines, tiles, pots, platters, boxes, ornaments and pretty much anything you imagine,” she beams.
With an increasing number of people looking to art as a way to de-stress, Sangeetha expects a growing interest in Shades of Clay. “Road rage, hectic work days, or emotional upheavals – one can figure it all out while working with clay,” she says.
Close to Nature
Sangeetha’s own tryst with pottery and clay modelling started at the age of 10. She learned how to use the wheel from Benguluru-based studio potter and artist Thomas Louis.
Apart from teaching clay-modelling she has also worked with several conservation organisations and a large part of her art and teaching is largely inspired by the natural world.
Sangeetha provides the participants with all materials and also conducts pottery sessions for organisations.
These days she is looking at setting up clay-modelling and pottery programmes in schools. “This is a fun art form that has a long way to go,” she signs off.