Art Ichol, a first-of-its kind multi-disciplinary arts centre in Maihar, Madhya Pradesh, has to its fame the National Tourism Award for being the most unique and innovative art destination in India. It is equally renowned for organising artist-in-residence programmes for international and national artists of repute and founder Ambica Beri has hosted more than 50 artists from over 20 countries ever since the centre’s inception in 2015. Beri now brings to Delhi some of the most path-breaking sculptural works created during such residencies in a show titled The Art Ichol Sculpture Show to be held at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi between November 28 and December 9 from 10 am to 7 pm.
The show features nearly 75 works in mediums like stone, bronze and ceramic by 50 Indian and international artists. Participating artists include Saturo Hoshimo (Japan), Sandra Black (Australia ), Eugenia (Latvia), Anatolli (Latvia), Cynthia Seigal (USA), Kim (Korea), Alvin Tan (Singapore), Naidee Changmoh (Thailand), Maite Delteil (France), Mami Koto (Japan), Julia Klemm (Germany), Maria Bosch (Spain) and Indian artists like Laxma Goud, Anupam Sud, Jayasri Burman, Paresh Maity, Madhvi Subramanium, Anjani Khanna, Ramesh Chandra, Milan Singh, Megha Joshi, Ravi Kumar, Aditi Saraogi, Debabrata De, Falguni Bhatt, Uday Singh amongst others.
“Art Ichol provides a creative environment amidst a natural setting that inspires visiting (resident) artists to add a new dimension to their art. This exhibition is an attempt to showcase the same. We also bring out an annual journal on art and this year’s journal titled Natyam-Performing Art that will be released on December 1 at Triveni Kala Sangam amphitheatre. The journal is the third in a trilogy, Drishyam-Seeing Art and Vaakyam-Writing Art, being the first two,” says Ambica Beri.
Some of the outstanding works in the show feature Megha Joshi’s Garbha-Griha – The Womb Is The Only Home, in Ceramic (Stoneware), Wood and Vermillion, created this year at Art Ichol. Says the artist, “While we may migrate for asylum, refuge, love, marriage or economic reasons, I find it interesting to note how people of the same citizenship define ‘home’ – the point of departure for migration. Some identify it ethnically, some by their passport, some by kinship, some by their land of residence – so it becomes a matter of choice to some extent, to define where one belongs. This thought was triggered while meeting colleagues of various nationalities while simultaneously visiting temples. The innermost sanctum, the most sacred place in Hindu temples, is called the GarbhaGriha or Womb-chamber. Perhaps the only home we all know – a nurturing place where we all have stayed, is the womb. Post birth, we are constantly moving and searching. Hence the work ‘The Womb is The Only Home” – a common place where every living being first belongs.”
Then there is Anjani Khanna’s ceramic sculpture intriguingly titled Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair. “I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, the younger by six years, of two siblings. As a result I was exposed to the Beatles, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, the Doors, and Bob Dylan amongst others at a very young age. Through my growing years, mother would refer to me as a lotus eater. Eventually I found my way to Pondicherry and clay and the Golden Bridge Pottery, run by the original Californian flower children Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith, who had journeyed to India in search of a gentler way of life. They had a tremendous influence on me and the choices I have made. The philosophical basis for the ceramic sculpture I make – yalis, as I refer to them, is deeply influenced by a world view where reductive dichotomies are eschewed in preference for a softer, more inclusive composite understanding and the power that that can wield.”
Debabrata De is in his late 50s and a diploma holder from the Indian College of Arts and Draftsmanship, Kolkata. Recipient of several award winning works, he has been working in bronze and terracotta, creating his engaging sculptures of rural folk, that invariably become a conversation piece where displayed. In a relatively new medium for him, ceramics, he has maintained his signature style.
Uday Singh is a farmer turned ceramic artist. Uday first experimented with clay at Art Ichol and discovered his latent talent which translated itself into his current passion. Being a farmer, his ease with clay and the animal forms he creates, is natural. Uday’s very first formal exhibition in Kolkata was a sell-out with people asking for more.
Naidee Changmoh is a Thai artist, who was fascinated by the sounds and smells of Ichol village and Maihar, and created a lot of Gods and Goddesses amongst ordinary men with each figure resembling his own self.
Holly O’Meehan’s ceramic practice took a turn when she started to combine crochet with ceramics. She loves the physicality of creating with her hands using ancient craft techniques. Her works attempt to honour those ways of old in a society dense with modern techniques. During her stay at Art Ichol, she used local yarn and rope to crochet and combined the same with ceramics.
Kathy Earthmann was inspired by the use of iron mesh material as well as industrial waste at Art Ichol. She says, “I was inspired to use textures in my work and tried to duplicate these in ceramic. It was challenging as well as fulfilling working in unfamiliar surroundings.”