Meet Auroville: Angad from Mantra Pottery
Where are you from? Do you think it has shaped who you are today?
I am Punjabi; I was born in Calcutta and I grew up in the north of India, after I went to England for my education and it has shaped me. Whoever I am today, what I have been through has shaped me. I studied mathematics at University, however I always enjoyed painting and the arts. My family was very much in line with an academic career, but at the end of my studies spending the rest of my life using only my mind for working terrified me. So I experimented with crafts and making different things with my hands. On Friday nights the BBC would broadcast a show where an artist or craftsmen were introduced and one of these shows they showed a potter from Japan.
I saw that, and I thought “that looks like an interesting way of life”.
I had been to Pondicherry before when I was 19 years old I had a Darshan with Mother, which changed my life at the time I didn’t realize. So I knew there were several potters in Pondy and when I visited I went to see the Golden Bridge Pottery. It reminded me of the documentary I saw and funnily enough Deborah, who ran the pottery, was close to this Japanese potter. They offered to train me and I started 3 days later. I took this decision more with the heart than with the head. It was the time of the hippies, the flower power and there was a big seeking for an alternative way of living–so I guess I was on the lookout for that.
So all of this happened and looking back I blame all of this on the Mother. Her energy made me look for a new career at the end of my studies and brought me back to India and Pondicherry. It’s almost 40 years I have learned pottery and 40 years I have been to Auroville.
How did Mantra Pottery looked like in the beginning?
On Monday 1st April 2019 is the 25th birthday of Mantra pottery. It looked shaky. In the beginning I worked with Michelle, a potter friend in Dana Community. After 4 years we realized that we had different ideas of working and we kind split up. I build this workshop myself after, we started, and I never looked back. I feel very privileged to be part of the potter community in South India. When I started I never thought I could live off this craft but everything worked out well–I still have my team with me.
What are the inspirations behind your designs and creations?
Nature. I got trained in Japanese aesthetic, which is very elementary and zen. This always clashed with my Indian background. When I left the Golden Bridge Pottery I started my own designs, I got more experimental with mixing the elementary with the expressive Indian way.
I repeat the designs a lot–I believe that the repetition brings a humble unconsciousness to its creation. This is the aesthetic way that comes from the Japanese side–the unselfconscious production makes it a piece of pottery that is made well with the heart.
I never tire of this practice as every time I repeat a design I focus on another aspect, so somehow it is the same but also different and that is I guess truly handmade.
My aim is to create something that is used, appreciated, broken and replaced–not a pottery piece that collects dust in a cupboard.
How does Auroville influence your way of running a business?
Everything. I don’t think I would have had the freedom to do what I am doing without Auroville. I am happy that I do not own this place and that I contribute to the place I call home in different ways. We give our contribution to the community, a share of our profit, and we train people so they can become independent and self sustainable. I am connected to people around me, that is an important aspect of my work and my life.
To be honest, I don’t even feel like I am working, I am living my life. There are difficulties and things can get tough but it is the only place I can imagine living in.
I did so many things in my life, I shaped so many things around me, pottery is just one.
Living in Auroville means…
Everything. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Whatever I will do it will be forgotten in a blink, my presence on earth is limited, like all of us.
Here I feel that no matter what I do the universe is looking after me.
Are you curious about his work? Have a look at his pottery collection here.