Be it a bulbous dewdrop- shaped vase in black and white or irregular- formed pieces made out of freeblown multi- coloured crystal glass, Kolkata- based artist Srila Mookherjee’s designs force a second glance from onlookers. Expert at manipulating the molten substance, her anthropomorphic creations have an Indian connection as she uses vark— the beaten gold and silver leaf— that embellishes most Indian sweets. Inspired by nature, Mookherjee’s works range from bottles, vases, bowls and platters in colours such as lilac, blue, grey, bright magenta, smoky citrine and deep red, to brown and light green. Being India’s first woman glass- blower, she got introduced to the art during a family vacation in Italy where she watched Venetian glass artists at work. Later, she specialised in ceramics at the National Institute of Design ( NID), Ahmedabad and also apprenticed in Finnish Lapland, first with Pentik, ceramic tableware manufacturers and then with Eiropaja, a pottery studio. She also trained to be a glassblower under the famous vessel- maker Anthony Stern in London. On her return to Kolkata in 1987, she set up her studio Aakriti which makes some of the best lyrical creations in glass. Talking about the experience of working with glass, she says, “Each of the inter- dependent disciplines of art, craft and design play a role in my work, each involving a different way of thinking. While art emphasises ideas, feelings and visual qualities, craft highlights the use of tools and materials, and the final design evolves at the planning, problem- solving and completion stages.” She loves working with colours and shapes and is excited to see results as they happen, as with this material, unpredictability is the only certainty.
An irregular formed bowl in shades of blue ( above); bottle with porcelain stopper inspired by nature ( left)