Works in Progress: Rajasthani Impressions 04

While I was in Udiapur the first time, I was here for an artist residency. I made posts about that experience and shows how the work progressed while I was there. Now that I am back I am working on several projects. I thought I would be nice to share those projects as they progress and get your feedback on the work.


Landscape outside Molela Village, Rajasthan

A few weeks ago, I visited Molela Village, Rajasthan with a group of friends. My friend and partner at CMYK Photo Workshops, Meropi has been in contact with a ceramicist who lives there for over a year. His name is Gangam. We had several other friends who also wanted to go, so on a Sunday morning we headed out in a friends Jeep.

The drive out to the village was around an hour. Gangam actually met us in another village and took us to one of his two studios. The studio he took us to first was outside town. Every year he hosts workshops at this site. The photograph above shows the landscape around the studio. This is also what much of the landscape surrounding Udaipur looks like. The best thing about this location was its serenity. It was quiet and peaceful. The space all outdoors had working tables and a kiln. Gangam told me I was welcome to come anytime and work on photographs.

From this location we went into Molela Village to Gangam’s primary working studio. In town, Gangam’s studio was a building. He had tables where he could work and he had a few pieces around. Most of his work is sculptural. He produces images of the Hindu gods and other things. However, he did not have much work there as he is having an exhibition at a space in Ahmadabad, Gujarat.


A few pieces from Gangam’s studio

After looking around the studio and chatting a while we all went for a walk through the village. There are actually quite a few ceramic studios in the village. Many of the studios produce images of Hindu gods or traditional Rajasthani tiles. These tiles are three-dimensional and depict architecture, animals or people working in fields.

As some of my companions went to look in some shops I stayed with Gangam. A tractor with a trailer on the back drove by. It was filled with male actors. These traditional male actors travel around the villages and do performances. All of the actors are male, even female parts are played by men. We continued up the street and caught up with the actors. They had all gotten out of the trailer, however, they were headed back. They stopped and wanted their photo taken.


Tribal Performers

Once the performers left, an old man walked up. Gangam told us that he was the only man in town still using a wheel to produce traditional vessels. The old man was near 90 years old. He wanted us to come down to his studio so we could see him work. We followed him to his shop. It was a tight space. He had vessels on shelves on the wall and piled up on the floor along the wall. In a corner near the front of the shop he had a wheel in the ground. He prepared some clay. He used a stick to get the wheel turning quickly. He then began shaping a vessel out of the clay. The clay was tall and cylindrical. He only used about a third of the clay to make the first vessel. He used a piece of string to cut the vessel from the mass of clay and then began a second pot. Meropi and I made videos of him working.


Two freshly made pots

Once we finished the man making pots we walked down to another ceramic studio. This shop had a lot of variety. However, I was still thinking about the man who made the pots. I walked back up the road and bought one. It was 40 rupees if I remember correctly (that is about 60 cents). Back at the other shop I had my eye on a small ceramic camel. I ended up buying it. It cost 100 rupees or $1.50. At this shop everyone bought something. Nice day for shopping.

For this shop we went to one more. Unfortunately the electricity had gone out, so we could not see well. He seemed to have similar things to the man everyone bought something from. The quality also seemed lower, so we did not say long. In the front area of the house/shop I took the photograph below.


Mirror, Swastika (Hindu symbol, it was appropriated by the Nazi’s) and keys above a sink

As we walked down the street I took a few photographs. However, it was not the most photogenic town. It was nice and relaxing though. Great day for an outing. In the end, we went to a local restaurant which they call a hotel to eat. We ate something I had never had before, Dal Bati. Then we headed back to Udaipur.


Lotus fabric on gate at Gangam’s studio


By |2018-09-08T19:22:04-05:00October 16th, 2016|Rajasthani Impressions|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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