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This Apeejay alumna and ceramic artist is helping youngsters cope with mental stress 

Eina Bhatia, an alumna of Apeejay College of Fine Arts, quit her job in a leading company to pursue pottery

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Moulding clay with your hands is a meditative process, says Eina Bhatia, a ceramic artist who has been working in the field for nearly seven years now. Apart from conducting exhibitions across the country, she also teaches pottery to those who cope with mental disorders or suffer from some addiction. In an interview, the Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA) alumna tells us about her journey, how pottery has changed in recent years, how it helps you cope with stress and more. Edited excerpts:

What was your journey at ACFA like?

I always wanted to do something related to art. ACFA provided me with the avenue for that. Our head of the department Avinash sir was one of the best teachers I had ever come across. He groomed us well to get jobs. After college, I got the chance to work with a leading advertising agency. I continued my job for 12-15 years after which I quit because it was impacting my mental health. While going through this rough phase, I once saw someone doing pottery and decided I wanted to do the same. It has now been seven years that I am doing it. I have also been teaching pottery for the past five years.

Where did you learn pottery? Do you have your own school?

I began by learning the basics of pottery in Delhi. Later, I joined an Australian pottery artist Gary Hambleton who was teaching in Chandigarh then. I worked with him for six months and moved to Bhopal to work with Bharat Bhavan, a multi-arts complex and museum. Following this, I worked with ceramic artist Veena Singh where I learned a lot. After returning to Punjab, I set up my own studio near Kapurthala, Punjab.

Are you teaching both adults and children?

Yes. My students include those who are mentally stressed, suffer from some mental illness, or are addicted to drugs, besides those who want to learn it professionally.

How do you reach out to these people?

I was in Bhopal when I met some university students who, I was told, had gone into depression. They asked me if I could help them in any way. I began teaching them pottery, which helped them destress. Gradually, more people started coming in. So, all of it happened quite organically.

How does pottery help in coping with mental stress?

Pottery is a meditative process. The clay you touch is organic and pure. When you work with clay, you go through some kind of meditation. You cannot work with clay when you are stressed, or you will not be able to create anything. You have to be relaxed and sit at the wheel patiently. That is what helps you heal.

Do you also sell your products?

My products are usually sold overseas. I have also done exhibitions in Chandigarh, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, Bhopal, etc. We have a small community of potters in India who all collaborate and set up markets in Goa, Bhopal, Mumbai, etc. I also take orders from people on social media. I have also launched an online ceramic jewellery brand.

Do you sense a lack of awareness in the country when it comes to ceramic?

Indians do not use a lot of ceramic and that perhaps stems from the lack of awareness. People are not aware of the new technologies in ceramic—they continue to have an archaic perception of potters. Ceramic, of course, is expensive, so many tend to opt for relatively cheaper materials like plastic. Ceramic, on the other hand, is organic and lead-free. However, now we try to educate other potters about the latest technologies in ceramic, which, in turn, is building awareness. The situation has improved. 

You have been doing pottery for many years now. How has the craft evolved?

Pottery has evolved a lot over the years. I would particularly like to mention Sardar Gurcharan Singh, the grand old potter who started Delhi Blue Pottery, and imported new pottery technologies from Japan. Other big influences in the field include Andretta Pottery in Himachal Pradesh and Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry, to name a few. These schools revolutionised the art of pottery in India to a great extent.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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