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Mandala Pottery: For the Love of Ceramics

Born from an unkempt and muddy studio, where smeared gloves, slabs of soft clay, twisted wires and an untidy wheel lie close to a massive fired kiln, is Adil Writer’s serendipitous ceramic art. He crafts magic from mayhem with his grubby, often bare hands.

Adil Writer working his magic on soft clay 

What is “conscious” if not the use of local and sustainable materials to bring alive art and culture, and ultimately make a living? For Writer, an artistically led ceramic crafter, painter and architect, consciousness comes rather naturally and is his way of life at Auroville.

“I am a compulsive collector of ceramics from all over the world.” muses Writer. He designed his only architectural wonder and atelier home in Auroville to display these artefacts and to craft a hearty assemblage of his own.

The Mandala Universe

Adil Writer took his head full of abstract imaginations to Auroville in 2001 to live with “people from across the seas”, and joined Mandala Pottery – a fine ceramic studio where hand-made functional tableware is wood, gas and soda fired. Possibly one of the very few soda-firing studios in the country that use only locally sourced materials.

Adil Writer and his artisans pose with the mighty wood-fired kiln 

The dry evergreen forests of Auroville have cradled the pottering secrets of Mandala for over 20 years now. Their forte may be functional ceramics but they craft architectural installations and murals too. The studio follows the principles of social sustainability and fair trade practices, which brings Mandala on the Xplorium radar.

Chinmayi and Anamika founded Mandala Pottery in the 90s. Today, it is run by a dynamic team of about ten creators and helpers. Known for exquisite tableware made from their clay and glazes, Writer along with other artists at the studio, enjoy the unique unpredictability and eccentricity of clay craft. Loved by niche cafes and boutiques, the studio receives orders from India and the Far East. Coromandel Cafe in Pondicherry is one such boutique that had its tableware designed here. These charming art pieces can be bought from Taboo, a lifestyle store in Auroville or our Xstore.

Discover handmade assorted ceramics by Mandala Pottery at the Xstore

Eat. Clay. Love.

Subtle yet exuberant, colourful yet earthy, contemporary yet archaic, Adil Writer’s love for clay is one of its kind. Be it the use of red clay(iron oxide) from Auroville in his paintings or fireclay to create figurines and tableware – he has mastered the method of improvisation and has a fascinating taste for textures. The artist’s play on clay also includes calligraphy on textured surfaces, another mesmerizing detail that draws you to his art.

“The painting does its own thing, I am only a facilitator. The way it flows, the way it blends and how it dries up in the morning is always a surprise.”

It’s almost unfair to concise the abundance of creativity and charm that Writer’s art holds, yet we summarize some of his most intriguing independent studio work right here.

Of sweet and outlandish dreams

… to strip the literature away, and let the child speak.

– Dhani Muniz

Outlandish and surreal ceramic figurines made from soda/wood-fired clay is Adil Writer’s Sweet Dreams series. The artist claims to be “exploring the surrealist representation of sweet and savoury dreams and desires with these figurative abstractions”.

Art is art. A few outlandish pieces from the sweet dreams series.

It’s hard to look away when one sets eyes on these expressionless infant figures in various avatars of unconventionality and sheer morbidity, yet all Writer wants is for people to register these figurines and how they feel about them, he believes, is a matter of perspective.

Treasure trove of imagination

When you imagine a treasure box, it is usually a well-defined structure where the form pretty much follows its function. But when Adil Writer thinks of one, it’s a whole other story. In 2012 Writer created a 500-piece Treasure Box Installation for Hyatt Regency, Chennai. Spontaneous as ever, these boxes are intricately textured and meticulously treated with Writer’s thoughtful craftsmanship.

“This is not a box to be filled with pins, buttons and paperclips. A treasured ring? Perhaps. But what does a Writer Treasure Box hold? Unquestionably, your imagination.” – Ray Meeker

No holds barred

“Canvases have started becoming free-styling objects. Why do you have to hang a poor canvas on the wall, crucified all its life? Bring it out, move it around the house, see how it changes in different locations and different light” opines Writer.

Paint and clay-clad barcode series on display 

The sculptural, three-dimensional Barcode series is crafted on canvas with clay elements meddled in the paint mix. This creates mesmerising textures that give these structures a “made-from-clay” look and feel.

To discover assorted ceramics by Mandala Pottery visit the Xtore!

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