Playing with clay

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By Adil Writer is scripting a success story in ceramics with his wall art, sculptures and more, says Hoihnu Hauzel
  • Published 12.09.09


Pix: Rupinder Sharma

Adil Writer’s favourite joke — one he has told time and again through his life: “Although my surname is Writer, I do not write anything original,” says the young architect-turned-potter and painter, who very often puts lines from songs on his pottery and his paintings. “The world is full of literature to dip into. I consider lyricists and songwriters the bards of the 21st century. So I scribble their lines and verses on my pots and on my paintings.”

In 2000 Writer moved to Auroville, the international township near Pondicherry and became a partner in a firm called Mandala Pottery. He works mainly in ceramics and recently won the first prize at a miniature teapot competition in Croatia.

A fired ceramic vase

Writer was a successful young architect who decided to throw it all up and become a potter. He is passionate about photography and is a trained masseur too! He reckons that his training as an architect is reflected in his paintings and his ceramic work.

After graduating from Mumbai’s Sir J.J. College of Architecture, Writer first joined a leading architecture firm, T. Khareghat & Associates. After working there for two years, he wanted a master’s degree and so he enrolled at the University of Houston in Texas.

A ceramic mural of a water fountain Writer created for a Bangalore home

This was followed by a brief stint at Gensler & Associates, a San Francisco-based global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm. Having had enough of the “good life,” he headed back home to Mumbai and joined Talati & Panthaky, a firm that builds dream homes.

Writer uses both fired clay

He was working on a project that required frequent trips to South India and during this time he enrolled for a pottery course at Golden Bridge Pottery run by acclaimed potters, Deborah Smith and Ray Meeker. When his project in South India ended over two years later he decided it was time to change course. So he gave up full-time architecture and moved to Auroville.

After stints at teaching arts and crafts, Writer joined Mandala Pottery where he works in ceramics. Recently, after winning a competition in Croatia he was invited to China for a show on teapots.

And earlier this year, his treasure boxes were auctioned at Fete Picasso, an event at Vallauris in the southeastern region of France. Another treasure box is now on show at a contemporary ceramic museum in Korea after it was selected for the 5th World Ceramic Exposition in April 2009.


The Slumdog Platter

Writer is often flooded with requests from clients who want ceramic works on their walls or as installations around their homes. “Ceramics was once relegated to the kitchens but has now slipped into living rooms. It’s being used for non-functional items and has also moved into the art market,” says Writer.

Writer believes that handmade pottery is now popular with Indians now. And he draws inspiration from almost anything including current affairs or even passages from Sri Aurobindo’s epic, Savitri.

“For me as an artist, it’s rewarding that people react to my sense of aesthetics and the hidden messages in my works,” he says. His Slumdog Platter, for example, is a terracotta plate that was inspired by the pre-release hype for the movie. “I made the platters sitting in a studio in the forests of Auroville months before the show,” says Writer who has had more than 50 solo and group shows since 2000 in India and abroad.


Miniature teapots in ceramic

In many of his earlier projects, Writer would use ceramics liberally when designing homes. For instance, he loved putting in ceramic room dividers. He also put in ceramic panels into furniture. Writer is currently doing a 20ft-long ceramic divider for an upmarket store in Pondicherry.

Stone for his sculptures

At Writer’s upcoming solo exhibition in October, the White Rabbit Show, he says he will be bridging the divide between pottery and canvas. The show will exhibit Writer’s mixed media paintings and ceramic sculptures.

“I will let the imagery take the viewer into a journey of discovery,” he says. Writer is also gearing up for a show of wood-fired works to be held in Shanghai in November. And next year, he’ll be off to Croatia for a solo show where he’ll showcase his paintings and ceramic works.