Saroj Kumbhar and Shyam Kumbhar are young terracotta artists from Koraput district of Odissha. I met these bright, enthusiastic and hard-working lads in the Ceramic studio at IDC, where they had made lovely clay pieces of horses and Ganesha. I feel lucky to have been able to meet them, for they flew back to Odissha that same day. They usually make animals and local gods and goddesses back home. They also conduct workshops for kids to try hands at claywork. They have also participated in various events like the National Children’s festival held there.
Both of them studied in school and got interested in Terracotta work in childhood. Their fathers are terracotta artists and so, this art has been flowed from one generation to another through blood. As kids, they used to come back from school and learn clay-work. They said that it took them years of patience and continuous practice to make proportionately correct pieces. Later, they went on to take this up full time, when they dedicated 3 years to this art. They used to work from 7 am to 10 pm while learning from their guru.
Usually, they sketch every night and try doodling different forms. They are very sharp and find it easy to make anything, once they see it. However, they never copy. They only get inspired and hence, are always keen to see newer things done by others. Their works are extremely clean finished and quite ornamental in nature. Saroj likes modern forms and designs while Shyam likes traditional pieces. Both of them are keen to find more exposure and learn ceramics. Most of the people around them have been working with terracotta and not ceramics.
For now, they shall be soon pursuing studies of 3 years in terracotta sculpture at a college in Odissha. They are very content and passionate about this art and wish to explore more. They also aspire to learn modern ceramics at Golden Bridge Ceramics in Pondicherry someday. They do not like the way the customers come and bargain at their studio and wish they would understand that it is not just clay, but the priceless artistry that goes in the making.
There are no happier people on this planet than those who decide that they want something, define what they want, get hold of the feeling of it even before it’s manifestation and then joyously watch the unfolding as, piece by piece by piece, it begins to unfold. That’s the feeling of your hands in the clay.
Their passion and love for pottery have let them remain artists and pursue the same further. I was very happy when they willingly shared their sketches and catalogues of previous works with me. The works are marvellous, simply marvellous!
This story has been contributed by Reshal Shah, a designer working with an MNC and in her spare time, she shares stories of the heart.