Enamel is the marriage of powdered glass and metal with the blessings of fire. The metal can be steel, copper, silver, or gold. The colors are powdered glass and when fired to 800 degrees centigrade they fuse with the metal. The process of firing is repeated many times to get the right effect. Stunning effects are achieved by using opaque, opal, or transparent colors, overlapping and layering leading to vibrant secondary and tertiary colors. The colors are lasting and permanent as enamel rings discovered in a Mycenaean tomb at Kouklia, Cyprus show. These rings date to 13th century B. C! The Greeks were enameling in 5th century B.C. and the Celtics in the 1st Century B.C.
My date with enameling began 16 years ago when I attended a 4-day enamel workshop by Mrs. Veenu Shah. The ability to fire colors on metal and the various techniques involved in the process was a heady feeling. Over the years I have had the pleasure of learning with various international artists, Dorothy Cockrell, Elizabeth Turrell, Marian Slepian, Amal Ganguly, and Sarah Perkins. I watched them share their knowledge and skills, imbibing and improving my own sensibilities and understanding of the medium. The Enamel Society has been instrumental in organizing these workshops.
In 2010, I came to know of a site ‘Grains of Glass’ (run by Trish White) and I became a member of this site. This opened a new gateway for sharing, learning, interacting with the international enamel community. It has been quite a journey and this year we 14 artists from different walks of life, exhibiting in New Delhi, India from the 16 to the 22nd of March 2016 at the ‘Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre’, New Delhi.
The event opened in the gracious presence of Dr. Karan Singh, former Chairman Indian Council of Cultural Relations and a Member of Rajya Sabha, and Mr. O P Jain, Founder, Sanskriti Foundation, Anandgram, New Delhi. Dr. Karan Singh and Mr. O P Jain have been following our journey over the years and felt that the exhibition vibrated with a lot of energy. The variety in terms of paintings, formed objects, art pieces, and the techniques, processes, and imagination in execution is phenomenal as can be viewed in the gallery below.
The Artists and their short profiles are also included. My love affair with enamel shows no sign of abating and I leave you to enjoy this wonderful show.
Ritu Sangal has a base in textile designing and a Management Degree from The University of Allahabad. Being a practicing artist and an art educator for over 30 years, she has held 12 solo shows and 20 group shows. Her paintings are part of private and corporate collections, with one of them being a part of the permanent collection/exhibit of the President House of India. Introduced to enameling about 16 years ago, she instantly fell in love with the unpredictable nature of the medium. Her style is influenced by her background in textile due to her education, nature because of her love for gardening, and spiritualism due to her individual journey into exploring the control of the mind over the body.
Smriti Sangal is a Delhi-based artist whose studio practice comprises varied mediums. She graduated from the College of Art, New Delhi in 2012 and specialized in Painting. After which, she went on to pursue her master’s degree from Wimbledon College of Art, University of Arts, London. Her journey has been enriching as she was exposed to Indian art and craft from an early age. Her practice is interpretive of innumerable structures/systems around us. Her works have an inherent inclination to grow into extensive projects as she constantly experiments while balancing between different mediums.
Veenu Shah in 1999, started and still continues to head an NGO “The Enamelist Society” instructing and teaching the art and craft of enameling. Her goal is to work towards promoting enameling as an art medium, especially as outdoor public art. Veenu has been enameling for the last 51 years! She has studied and worked under internationally celebrated enamel artists Elizabeth Turrell, Yohko Yoshimura, Harlan Butt, etc. Her works are in the Colgate museum and the Brooklyn Museum in the US. Private collections of the Hindujas, Ambanis Punj, etc.
Jyoti Singh Working with metal and enamels has been a revelation for her, she now knows what it means to go at something “hammer and tongs”! She enjoys the pre-firing process of forming and texturing the copper; then the physicality of applying the enamels and the sweet melding of color and metal in the fire and heat! She is drawn now to exploring sacred geometry and feminine power, Shakti in her increasingly sculptural work.
Triveni Mahajan is a Chartered Accountant and Jewelry Designer by qualification. Creativity is her mantra, and she constantly experiments with various mediums. Enameling is her passion and a part of her spiritual journey. She is fascinated with mythology and intrigued with Sacred Geometry and draws Inspiration from Nature (Prakriti) and Energy (Shakti). Her enamel work has been exhibited across India and Hungary.
Seema Lalit Uppal has been studying and experimenting as an enamelist for over 9 years. Having lived in different corners of the country, her creativity stems from her exposure to the vast cultural pool that is India. She is always looking for new inspiration in the material and natural world that we live in and loves experimenting with both technique and form. Most of her work is in copper and she loves using the repousse technique.
Pradeep Malhotra is currently experimenting with diverse contemporary materials including industrial waste, fusing them with enamel to bring out both contrasts and complements…mixing the modern with the traditional in synthesis. He has participated in workshops and exhibitions with the Delhi Enamellist Society in New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Hungary. He has studied visual art at Shunya Sublime Art Academy, and in Indian Art and Art Appreciation at the National Museum Institute, New Delhi.
Anindita Kishore is a member of the Enamel Society, New Delhi since 2001. She learned enameling from two pioneer enamel artists of India, Bishambar Khanna, and Veenu Shah. She served in the Civil Service and left early to return to enameling and painting. She has had 40 exhibitions, including around 12 on enameling. Her inspiration comes from surrounding life and her own creative imagination. She uses fine copper, vitreous enamel, and various techniques for her enamel paintings.
Aditi Sheth’s greatest inspiration is adding beauty to everyday mundane things. Introduced to metal enameling 4 years back, it has been a joy ride for her, experimenting with different contemporary enameling techniques. She seeks to engage the viewer with candid explorations of the city that they can relate to. This exquisite and dynamic ancient art helps to bring life and beauty to the abstractions in her work.
Avanti Mehta, the enamelist and artist, is an illustrator of children’s books with a background in wildlife management and the environment. She discovered the art of enameling 5 years ago and has been hooked ever since. Both real and imaginary bird, animal, and insect motifs predominate her enamel work, reflecting her love for nature.
Dipali Meher, a graduate of Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Arts, Mumbai has been on an exploratory journey of art & design for the last 15 eventful years. Having dabbled in the field of print and motion graphics, she has now shifted focus to fine arts. The last six years have been an exploration of enamels and ink. Her work has been showcased in multiple exhibitions in Mumbai, Delhi, Paris, and Dubai.
Hetal Shah, a budding artist is using the vibrancy of enameling on copper to elevate the simple metal to another level. She not only creates artistic pieces, which retain the beauty of copper but also enhances it with brilliant touches of enamel.
Kavita Lomror is a trained Jewelry and fashion designer and enamel for her is a wonderful medium to express her artistic skill not possible in other mediums. The possibilities, vitreous enamel offers, are dynamic and far ahead of other mediums. She uses a non-conventional way of working with the medium in terms of techniques, expressions.
Kana Lomror Being a fine artist, Vitreous Enamel is to him the medium that opens up new doors of experimentation in painting on a metal surface that he would not otherwise explore. It’s a very challenging but simultaneously very exciting and satisfying medium to express his imaginations and ideas. Kana draws with copper wire to define images and these based on spiritual themes. They connect reality with spirituality. He would like the viewer to not only see his work but to see beneath and beyond the surface, to feel the intuitive magical process by which the final form assumes meaning.