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Monday, March 14, 2016

An Art Exploration at Maihar and discovering Art Ichol ... :) Part 1.

A few months ago, I spent a beautiful week in Maihar, a quaint little town in Madhya Pradesh. Thanks to my dear friend and ceramic artist Rekha Bajpe Aggarwal ... being part of this  crazy bunch of women ... out on an 'Art Exploration' trip... has been one of  the most memorable time of my life.We were headed to Ambica Beri's ... Art Ichol. Let me share with you one of the most amazing destinations in India, today ... for an artist ... an experience one is not likely to forget easily :)

(L-R) Suparna Arora, Rajee Sood, Rekha Bajpe Aggarwal, Sangeeta Batra and Simran Sandhu

So here goes ... :)
An overnight train ride and we arrive at Ambica's home, the Maihar Haveli, a grand old heritage home, standing regal ... elegant and still in all its glory.

The welcoming haliconias ... the ochre arches of  a trypical colonial Haveli ... 

I needed a bit of a push and a shove to move in ... cause standing tall at the entrance is the creation of artist Narayan Sihna titled 'Deviji' ... well ... there is lot more we'll talk about this artist soon ... cause I am floored by his creativity.

                                                          'Devi ji' by Narayan Sinha

Vintage photographs ... ceramic art and murals ... paintings ... antiques adorn the entire Haveli 

Moving deeper into the beautiful home ... the veranda's around the inner courtyard make you realize what it is to be surrounded by art ... art to live with ... art to be one with.This place invokes creativity to go in an overdrive ...  :)

Gallerie walls, adorned with art ... greens all around ... those bougainvilleas ... ah! there are murals ... and ceramic art pieces all over this property ... phew ! ...

Show me a person in India ... who does not get all nostalgic looking at those colonial chairs on a veranda ... as for me ... the thing about such places is the sudden urge of going on a tea drinking binge ... as they say ... Chai pe ... chai pe ... chai ho jai ... ;)

I fell in love with the way Ambica  used this old carved wooden pedestal to hold her urli ... the designer in me really does a cartwheel  ... weehee ... look at the details ... I couldn't contain my excitement ... everytime I passed by I'd click a few pictures ... and get all touchy feely with this fella ... ;))

Ah ! my love for all things old ... my mind wanders off to all the stories it holds ... hmm ! wonder where it came from ... where it might have been carved and installed and then one day done away with ... blessed are those that find ... final homes like this ... :)

I have no doubt Ambica's father was one proud dad ... what with all her contribution to the art world ... but to hear her talk about her late father ... it strikes an emotional chord with me ( I was always my daddy's lil' girl) ... all her stories about how he helped her restore this home and the important role he played in the making of Art Ichol ( we'll go there more in details in a later post)

The works of some of the most prominent artists in India stare back at you from around the garden too ... works that they created while staying here in art camps ... retreats ... residencies ...  breaks ... vacations ... :)) ... well ! they all leave behind many beautiful stories too ... one can never have enough of discovering the treasures of art  ... :)

The ceramic center at the Haveli ... is where we spent some crazy back breaking hours ... but then we were really on a creative high ... and the feel of unhindered hours of letting your creativity flow ... taking tie out for a tea break with other artists ... the whole atmosphere is charged.The sheer joy of letting your mind free to create and explore.
On our days of exploring painting and sketching ... I infact found myself get back to sketching after sooo ... many years ... talk about getting me all emotional ... it really did ... and ... I have since, gone back to always travelling with my sketch pad and and pencils ... :)

 I am not even going to attempt  ...  saying I can remember the names of all the artists who left behind such creative collections ... well ! firstly because I am just too much of a novice in this genre of art and secondly ... a ... yeah ! waaaaay too many  ...

 ... I did ofcourse fall in love with these very interesting animals ... which as Milan Singh ( the resident ceramic artist) told me ... where the works of a local man who would come from the village to learn ... his inspiration being very much his local style of making animals in terracotta. For someone who had soooo ... much talent it was heart breaking to know he gave up due to family and financial reasons ... :( ...

 O.k, just a little peek into our time at the ceramic studio ... this picture would easily be some where close to midnight ... the chai and coffee to keeping us all fired up ... ;))

 And while we all worked together ... these pieces were coming to life ... the plan was an introduction to Raku and a few other firing techniques ... aaaa ...  yeah ! one of them needed tons of beer ... ;) ... hey ! just saying we had fun ... :) ... but honestly ... its called Obvara pottery ... come on, go google ... ;))

What's more wonderful than dinning with all the resident artists of Art Ichol. One can only imagine the conversation ... when you have painters ... ceramists ... sculptors and even a bronze casting artist. Who also happen to be beautiful singers and poets. Added to this mix are stories and anecdotes from Ambica and her lovable family ... :)
For our next leg of the trip we moved to Art Ichol ... but that's for the next post ... :)
So incase, you happen to be an artist ... a designer or you are an aficionado of all things creative... or may be you are a traveler looking for exciting destinations in India to explore ... do stay tuned while I come back to share more about  Maihar and Art Ichol. And ofcourse more about the lady behind it all ... Ambica Beri.
But if your curiosity is way over the brim ... you can discover more on their facebook page, here and their website here.

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