Bombay’s Sir JJ School of Art

We took an overnight train to Bombay (from Hyderabad) and arrived in the early morning hours. A cup of tea and a hot shower later we collapsed into bed for a late morning snooze. Bombay was primarily a personal detour but we decided to visit the Sir JJ School of Art while we were here.

We called ahead and arrived at its colonial campus near the beautiful Victoria Terminus station. The building in itself is a marvel: even the column capitals are carved with art related motifs (a man painting, a man carving, etc.).

The Dean, Professor Vishwanath Sabale met us in his office and then graciously took us on a tour of the campus. He was very keen to point out to us the rich heritage of the school, the carved pillars, the replica statues, which once came from London for the education of its students and the various departments and the works of its students.

Their ceramics department has the fewest number of students and we got the impression most of them are interested in industrial ceramics. They have electric and gas kilns but the wood kiln stands partially dismantled. When we entered the students were quietly engaged in a practical exam: they were building sinks that they had previously designed. Despite this, we were given the permission to momentarily speak with them about the course and their experiences.
We learnt that glazing is taught but is technically a combination of industrially produced and bought recipes and a glaze master that teaches the students to develop their own glazes. They are taught to throw and hand-build simultaneously and they primarily use electric kilns, as they do not suffer from power cuts. Most of the work on display was sculptural and mural based artistic work. We did not see much functional ware displayed at the department.

Before leaving the Dean introduced us to Tejashree Sagvekar, a ceramic lecturer and studio potter. She was carrying a self-made teapot and is evidently interested in functional ware. It was interesting to learn of her education, her artistic motivations, her aspiration for the department and once more we heard of how pivotal Golden Bridge Pottery has been for Indian ceramicists.

Leave a Comment