Tuesday, 14 April 2015

T H E  G L A S S  M A I D E N

Text: Hina Nitesh

Long back when I was in school, we were taken for an educational trip to a lab whose name I have forgotten 
for it really was ages ago. What I do remember is witnessing the process of glass blowing for the first time. I was quite impressed with the skill of the person who effortlessly made glassware by 
blowing as if he was blowing up a balloon. 

A few years ago, I witnessed the process yet again. This time I was in Venice, the land of Murano Glass. At a workshop the master craftsman used many complex techniques and produced colorful and intricate glass figurines. The techniques used to create such exquisite glass pieces have since fascinated me. 

What I find really interesting is that glass which is so rigid and regular and breakable becomes malleable like a piece of clay waiting to be molded when it is hot. 

Glass blowing then becomes an art form which can be acquired with a lot of practice and patience. The person who I am going to be talking about in this post has both. Srila Mookherjee, an alumnus of National Institute of Design also has the credit of being the only lady glass blower in India.

At NID, Srila specialised in ceramics but later went to London to learn the art she had come to love. Under the guidance of the renowned artist, Antony Stern, she learnt the techniques of glass blowing. She came back to India and set up Aakriti - her studio in Kolkata. 

Her portfolio of works contains vases, containers, plates, bowls,decorative pieces etc. She has also worked with jewelry designer Eina Ahluwalia to produce pieces which combine glass and other materials in wearable pieces. She has also experimented with glass to make off beat stuff like trays, lamps, candle stands etc. 

Her early works reflect the influence her training in the west had on her. As a result, the form and patterns on the early pieces are a reminiscent of the European glassware.

In her later works, she has explored ways and means to deliberately link her work with India. For this, it is not just the forms and patterns but also the tradfitional crafts that have been integrated into glass articles. The silver wark (thin beaten silver foil used to decorate Indian sweetmeats) has been used beautifully in her works.

The use of colours in Srila Mookherjee seem to add to the fragility and delicateness of glass.

Looking at her works, I am reminded of the craftsman in Venice in whose skilled hands and through whose expert eyes the lump of glass was shaped into a memento to be cherished forever! 

To know more about the artists and her works log onto her website

 All images: Srila Mookherjee
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