RASHMI OBEROI | 15 SEPTEMBER, 2019
Enamel Revisited - A Lot to Celebrate Still
20 years of the Enamelist Society
Welcome to the world of enamellers who encompass levels of expertise starting from enamel students to professional level enamellers. They are known for their highest standards of contemporary design and workmanship in all aspects of this unique and exciting medium.
In the year 1999, Bishambar Khanna the pioneer of Art of metal enamelling in India, Elizabeth Turrell a well-known enamel artist form UK, Vivek Das professor of metals in JJ School Of Art, Kudrat Singh, a third generation meenakar from Jaipur and Veenu Shah conducted an amazing workshop in metal enamelling as art, for 15 students from all over India. The success and the positive energy of the week long workshop in Sanskriti Kendra, Delhi, was so inspiring, that the Enamelist Society was started, with a dream to reinvent enamel in India!
In 2001, the largest and the most attended International Enamel Exhibition was held at the Crafts Museum. 40 International artists participated from many countries. Well-known international enamellers Amal Ghosh, Tamara Winters, Elizabeth Turrell, Hollosy Katalin from Hungary, conducted a week long workshop at the crafts museum during the exhibition. 15 students from Mumbai and many others had come to attend the workshops.
40 international delegates attended, a weeklong International Enamel Symposium held simultaneously at Sanskriti Kendra. There were talks on history of enamelling in India, art history, Indian textiles, crafts etc. with visits to historical monuments and cultural shows. A 10 day tour to Rajasthan was organized for them. They interacted with the local meenakars in Jaipur, visited Samodh, Agra and other places.
The international exhibition and the conference were a lot of hard work, but hugely successful. The same exhibition was taken to the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai. A workshop was conducted for 40 students at the gallery during the exhibition.
In the year 2000 a studio in Chirag Enclave, Delhi was started. Kana Lomror worked there for 5 years. Many workshops for teaching enamels were conducted by the Society for the Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corporation of India - 2 in West Bengal near Shantiniketan in a terracotta factory, 2 each in Agra and Bhopal, 3 in Jaipur for the craftsmen and their families. Then a few meenakar masters joined the Society. Rajkumar Sankit Ji’s wife and daughter Preeti, broke all traditions and started enamelling!
Many well-known international enamellers Dorothy Cockrel from UK, Marilyn Slepian from US, came to conduct workshops in Delhi. A big workshop was conducted by Elizabeth Turell in Garhi Studio in Delhi. They had several joint exhibitions in Mumbai. When Sangeeta Jindal saw the potential of enamelling, she gave them a studio with a large industrial kiln in Vasind, Maharashtra. A few pan India workshops were held in Vasind. Many international artists like Amal Ghosh, Elizabeth Turell, came to conduct successful workshops.
Enamellers in Mumbai were able to use the facilities for many years. But, as is the law of nature, the life of the workshop was over and they had to close it. By then many artists started their own studios. The journey of the Society, sadly became more local Delhi based. The studio in Delhi buzzed with great energy for many years. But in the new age of working with only finger tips on computers, enamelling was no longer that attractive!
The Delhi group has been holding regular exhibitions as Enamel Revisited for many years. Now that 20 years have passed let us look at the brighter side:
Sanskriti Kendra has given them an Enamel studio.
Regular workshops are conducted by senior enamellists.
A very successful workshop was held there in 2016 when Sarah Perkins a world renowned enamelist and metal smith from the US conducted a workshop in forming and enameling bowls! Veenu Shah, Kana Lomror, Ritu Sangal, Triveni Mahajan, Jyoti Singh have running studios in Delhi. Most of them are teaching and their students in turn have also got studios.
So there is indeed a lot to celebrate still!
It is in this spirit that the Enamelist Society will host an exhibition at the Bikaner House in New Delhi from September 26 to October 6, 2019. They would like to invite everyone to participate in the Enamel Revisited X showcasing fired enamels. Their aim is to once again come together to infuse themselves with new energy, to put their best foot forward and work to make it an extraordinary event of their careers.
Encouragement to further develop enamelling skills and exploration of the medium within the supportive networks offered is the key to growth. It is enthralling to watch the gifted artists’ display their enthusiasm, passion and flare for enamelling.