Nostalgia Sculpted in Ceramics - Vidhi
“Something so pretty shouldn’t sit in a cupboard”
Standing at her workstation, fashioned out of joining two computer tables together to form one large platform, Vidhi welcomes us in as her hands shape the clay from its nascent stage into something unimaginable. We’re witnessing the first stage of what is going to go on to be one of her famous quirky ceramic creations. A popcorn tub, a matchbox, perhaps even a Campbell’s Soup tin, which will sit pretty on the shelves of her gorgeous sunlit studio in Mumbai.
“When you think of ceramics, you think china – delicate tea cups, saucers and high tea. And I wanted to change that. I make ceramics that are fun, nostalgic and also for everyday use. Something so pretty shouldn’t sit in a cupboard!” declares the artist, as she settles into the cutest little yellow ikat pouffe, sporting her Margot Shirt-Shorts Co-Ord set.
“Pottery came into my life entirely by accident."
A commercial arts graduate from Sir J.J School of Art, the sculptor started her creative journey as an Art Director, working with a variety of ad agencies and brands.
"I was at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla, where there was a small pottery workshop being held for kids. I could see them making a bunch of cute things out of terracotta. I couldn’t help myself and I decided to join them, and ended up making a sea monster!”
After her first tryst with the medium, she tried her hand at the coveted 36 Days of Type Project, which invites designers, typographers and illustrators from all over the world to express their particular interpretation of the letters and numbers of the Latin Alphabet. She took on the opportunity to explore her passion for clay further, played to her previous monster theme, and ended up crafting her own little terracotta collection of letters and numbers.
In a bid to share her affection for material clay, and continue experimenting with her creativity, she dove deep into the Instagram rabbithole in an attempt to find more potters and ceramic artists in India, finally finding a potter in Chandigarh, who was about to hold a residential pottery course. “I was in the midst of my wedding preparations! This was somewhere in July of 2019, with the wedding scheduled for December of the same year.” She found time to juggle Pinteresting her wedding trousseau with her passion for pottery and headed to Chandigarh.
Post the workshop and the crazy wedding madness, she started her Instagram page, Studio Vida. She would work her 9-5 five days a week, and on the weekends, she would indulge her creative side and work on her pottery in a rented studio space.
“I would work on the weekdays, and wait for the weekends for my pottery classes and just work on my own things. At that point, I knew I had to figure out a way to put an end to my day job and pursue pottery full time. Eventually, in about 6 months, I realized that there’s no right time to follow your dreams. Might as well just quit the day job and start working on something I really loved doing. I couldn’t look at the screen anymore. Pottery was just so immersive, so calming.”
As she embraced her love for working for herself with no deadlines or screentime, she stumbled upon the Bombay Potter’s Market in the winter of 2021, which validated her decision to pursue pottery full time. “The response I got at the pop-up was extremely encouraging.”
“My ultimate idea is to turn
everyone into a clay person!”
So what serves as an inspiration when you’re coming up with the most relatable yet unique pieces of art? “I want to make things that I would use myself, and not just trinkets. Be it a candle holder, lamp or storage, they have to be more than just pretty.”
She lifts the flowers out of the Coca-Cola can she sculpted in ceramic. “Of course you can use this can to drink your beverages from, but I mean, it looks cute too! Form and function go hand in hand. Sustainability is another important factor. I used to love looking at pretty packaging, but it’s all single use. This is a way for the nostalgia of these iconic brands and pieces to stay with you forever.”
“It was always pottery for me, I never considered painting or any other field. I couldn’t express everything she felt through paint, just working with clay drew me. Pottery helps you be in the moment – no phones, just you and the people and what you're making. You just enjoy, be yourself and make what you want to. I’m so grateful for it, to wake up and be so excited to go to work, it’s magical. When you work for yourself, you don't mind putting in the extra hours, and it shows in your work - and that comes and pays you back. My ultimate idea is to turn everyone into a clay person!”