Gond ceramic mural at CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad

The CIIE mural

It is a mixed feeling as you walk past one of your own installations every morning. Sometimes it is a feeling of elation seeing a piece of art that will remain forever. But most times, it is panic at the thought of small chip here, a little paint peeling there and loads of excruciating scrutiny. This installation, a magnificent, vibrant tree perched high above on a dominating grey wall is part of my own office. Made with ceramic and pasted (yes, piece by piece) on painted plywood, this 12 feet by 12 feet structure is a jolt in the predominant stark grey architecture of the building.

Gond ceramic mural design team at ClayClub

The design team with the artisans

A collaborative project with Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre at CEPT University, David Gray, a ceramic designer from Scotland, ClayClub, the local ceramic studio and our team at CraftCanvas, this was one hell of a joyride. Spanning over 2 months and sweating it out at the studio while a 1000 degree Celsius kiln is on (it is one of the hottest summers in Ahmedabad), this has been one of the most physically taxing projects ever. Interspersed with a lovely exchange of ideas and conversations from the East and the West, Indian food and Scottish coffee (no, not palatable at all!), the mural took shape.

David Gray working on the base design for the Gond Ceramic mural

David working on the drawings

The language barrier faded very quickly with the Gond artisans from Madhya Pradesh  figuring out a way to swap ideas with the Scottish designer. David spent a good amount of time in understanding the art techniques before suggesting a design. The mural was to be installed at the Centre of Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad. Being the focal piece of art at the institution, this mural at the entrance symbolizes their vision.

Installation of the Gond Ceramic installation at CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad

David working on the installation

The logo forms the base for the mural. Painted in bold Gond colours and textures, this represents CIIE as the platform/roots for every start up in their premises. The tree symbolizes the ecosystem that houses all the companies. Every sector dealt with by the incubatees here is represented by an icon.

Installing the Gond Ceramic Mural at CIIE

Installing the mural on the wall

The run-up to the climax was no less than a Bollywood flick. With 15 people working on either sides of a shaky scaffolding, the final installation was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I panicked as the massive structure swayed chipping a tiny edge, but more damage was averted by the hero of the show- our carpenter Naresh. As the final screw was nailed in, there were tears in my eyes. We had done it. I’ve heard that going through labour changes your life and makes you a different person. As I see the plaque holding my company’s name beside the mural, I know that with every project a little bit of me changes. And I welcome that wholeheartedly.

Arka modular furniture, option 2
Arka, wood turning, lacquer, modular furniture, do-it-yourself, DIY, colour furniture, Jimena Biro, DICRC, CEPT university, CEPT, Jay Thakkar

Jimena with the artisan, Anilbhai

When I first met Jimena at the DICRC office, my first thoughts were not very positive. In my opinion, the very tall and very thin Jimena (from Mexico city, Mexico) would not last a week in India, especially if was going to work with artisans in their workshop. All it took was a week to disprove that fact. She blended in so well and at times, I was the outsider. The artisans took to her instantly and her very positive and optimistic outlook caused this camaraderie.

Arka, wood turning, lacquer, modular furniture, do-it-yourself, DIY, colour furniture, Jimena Biro, DICRC, CEPT university, CEPT, Jay Thakkar

Arka modular furniture, option 1

Arka, wood turning, lacquer, modular furniture, do-it-yourself, DIY, colour furniture, Jimena Biro, DICRC, CEPT university, CEPT, Jay Thakkar

Arka modular furniture, option 2

The ‘Arka’ project done in collaboration with Design Innovation Craft Resource Center (DICRC) was the first of its kind. Jimena interning for a month at DICRC worked on developing a modular shelving unit using wood turning and lacquer craft from Gujarat. Inspired by the widespread ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) concept, Arka was conceptualized as the new age application of a traditional craft.

Arka, wood turning, lacquer, modular furniture, do-it-yourself, DIY, colour furniture, Jimena Biro, DICRC, CEPT university, CEPT, Jay Thakkar

Arka-explorations

We started off with working on paper, trying to make sense of our idea. Jimena made a ton of these little things.

Arka, wood turning, lacquer, modular furniture, do-it-yourself, DIY, colour furniture, Jimena Biro, DICRC, CEPT university, CEPT, Jay Thakkar

Close up shot Arka

Then as we progressed, we tried various designs and chose the one above.

Arka, wood turning, lacquer, modular furniture, do-it-yourself, DIY, colour furniture, Jimena Biro, DICRC, CEPT university, CEPT, Jay Thakkar

Arka-Work in progress, at DICRC with Prof. Jay Thakkar

Towards the end of her internship, the workshop was busy with activity as pieces were being turned, coloured and lacquered. Prof.Jay Thakkar from DICRC mentored Jimena on the design application during the entire process. And we set up the the first prototypes.  For future use, we also developed an entire palette of colours that the buyer can choose from.

Arka, wood turning, lacquer, modular furniture, do-it-yourself, DIY, colour furniture, Jimena Biro, DICRC, CEPT university, CEPT, Jay Thakkar

Arka- single unit, hand-turned by artisans from Kutch

Post Jimena too, Arka has undergone some changes in terms of design. We tried a bit with the beautiful Kutch lacquer work mainly used in spoons and other cutlery.

Arka, wood turning, lacquer, modular furniture, do-it-yourself, DIY, colour furniture, Jimena Biro, DICRC, CEPT university, CEPT, Jay Thakkar

Arka, at the Garvi Gurjari exhibition

And here is how it looked at a recent exhibition at Garvi Gurjari, Ahmedabad. The product is a collaborative output, the artisania of Mexico joining hands with the karigar in India, bringing about the birth of Arka.

To purchase this product, please write to us at mail@craftcanvas.com.