As an eight-year-old, Sushma Anand made her first clay figurine: A ball of clay with sticks as hands and legs. This was for a class project. Little did she know then, that this would become her full time occupation. “My passionate career,” smiles Sushma.
The sculptor and ceramicist from Kochi was in Collage to display Earth Air Water Fire, a collaborative festival collection between her and the multi-brand luxury designer store..
“Earlier this year Lata Madhu, the owner of Collage, and I got on a call. She wanted me to create something specially for Deepavali. So I came up with this,” says Sushma pointing to neatly arranged rows of lamps, where some even looks like Aladdin’s. There are three types of diyas of which two are the oil and wick variants and one is a tea light. Additionally, there are plates, serving trays, bowls, and dinnerware too in soothing shades of blue, green, ochre and purple, with shapes ranging from elegant square to circular with an edge..
Sushma also works with prints and other surface techniques on ceramics. The pieces can be customised and so can the colours. “Nowadays you can get any colour. We have stains in red, yellow, green…,” she says, adding that her clients have all sorts of requests from gold padukas in clay, printed crockery to mural with swirls.
Originally from Chennai, Sushma first learnt the art of pottery under Toshikazu Kanai Yokohama, a Japanese trainer in Injambakkam, in 1996. She then trained at Golden Bridge Pottery in Auroville, followed by stints in Bengaluru. “Wherever there were courses being offered, I would apply,” she says.
I love working with my hands, Sushma says. As a Fine Arts student from Stella Maris College, she says that her 2D art was not great. “For me, everything is three dimensional. I got into pottery immediately after I graduated.”
She moved to Kochi in 2006 and has been doing solo shows since. In 2012, she launched her studio Artmosphere in Thiruvaniyoor, on the outskirts of Kochi. The studio focusses on functional pottery and custom-made orders. That is her Zen space.
“There is a certain romance to pottery when you sit for a class and enjoy it. But when there are deadlines where you have to complete orders for clients, it can get stressful.”
But what Sushma finds exciting about this medium is the fact that you can mould something and move it to your will. “You do have ups and downs working with clay. It has a mind if its own.”
The artist likes to experiment and create new pieces. Her inspiration comes from myriad sources. “If I am travelling for a show, it comes from the city I am showcasing in. For example, in Jaipur, I made kettles with handles in the shape of camels, and jaali work pattern on the tea pot. Textile designs, mango and floral motifs and kolam designs also find their way into creations whilst in Chennai” she says.
Sushma feels that people need to understand that since everything is handmade, it takes time to produce these pieces. “And there will be differences in lines or brush strokes. That’s the charm and beauty of handmade,” she says.
Collage X Artmosphere is on display at Collage on Rutland Gate. Customised orders can also be placed. Prices start at ₹500 and go up to ₹17,000.