Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Utensil Museum, Ahmedabad

In Ahmedabad there is a well know restaurant called 'Vishala' which celebrates village life. It’s a themed restaurant with both exceptional Gujarati food and service. The village experience extends to live music, dance and puppet shows.…..
Within the restaurant grounds is a space that is a metalsmiths delight…. ‘VECHAAR’ or the ‘The Utensil Museum’, a large collection of clay, wood, bone and metal artefacts, vessels and containers of infinite variety. Items such as water pitchers, milk containers, oil burners, betel nut cutters are grouped together in sections based upon where they were made, their function or use.
The objects originate from across India, Pakistan, and the countries which cover the land towards and around the Aral sea.
Most of the metal vessels are spun, raised, cast or fabricated and are made from brass, copper or bell metal / non-ferrous alloys. The collection is 'salvaged', the owner and creator saving the examples of skill and craftsmanship from being 'recycled' as scrap. The objects have wonderful silhouettes and proportions
All manner of forms, elegant outlines, sprouts and handles exist here, some clearly showing the marks of their making, others richly decorated, chased and ‘repoussed’ with great skill. The collection includes spouted 'Lota', used for ritual cleansing before prayer.
The range of scale of the metalwork is stunning, from the intimate, small holy jugs for performing ‘puja,’ to giant pitchers and dowry chests (some between 60cm and 120cm in diameter). The latter with their three legs and beautiful domed lids.

The three legged dowry chests are a speciality of the Kathi community of Saurashtra, Gujarat. The box is given at the time of a marriage and is used for storing clothes and jewellery.

There are water vessels of every description with their tight necks, wide bodies and fluid lines; the shapes have developed over time and they are designed to limit spills and to ease their handling and use including carrying on the hip or the head.
A base of a 'Hukka' Made from cast brass the piece comes from Uttah Pradesh. The engraved design is influenced by the Mughal style.A lantern.
Bell.Temple oil lamp.Giant iron pots (some with riveted plates).