“You think that you change clay. But I think clay changes you”
Nowadays, this is the kind of sentence that I repeat a few times a day like it is a medical prescription. This is because I have suddenly become an artist. It happened over the weekend. When I walked by chance into a curious camp of travelling artists. They have left me with this very artistic soul, a whimsical temperament, that is now making me almost sad. The kind of sad that makes me want to say something philosophical or poetic. But then I decide that a poignant pause of a blueish hue is so much better.
To be honest, my original motives were purely selfish. I wanted a waterfall in my garden, one of those fancy Buddha ones that looked like it was from @Home, but minus the 5 digit cost. And I had some romantic ideas. No, I wasn’t running around the waterfall in transparent white with any particularly handsome someone, but rather, I was sitting beside it, reading and writing my thoughts to the sound of falling water, painting to it, just as artists do. The imagery was perfect. Just not the cost.
Which is when I hit upon this idea of making a fountain. Somehow, my mind is perfectly OK with spending money on learning how to make a fountain, but not on buying a fountain. I’m telling you, I have been bitten by the bug, a kind of artistic rabies.
As a part of my artistic process, I imagined my friends walking into my house, ball-eyed by the sculpture that adorned and spouted crystal clear water, gurgling as if it were falling from some deep crevice of a rocky rain forest. I had the following scene clear in my mind: My face would adorn a humble smile that I had of course practiced for hours, and I would say, “Oh…I made that Buddha” and then I’d relish the shock that registered on their faces. My life would never be the same again, because I would have resigned from my corporate life. I was now a full-time artist, selling and living on my fountains, visiting filthy rich mansions and building fountain installations for them, drinking their lemonade in their gardens while they admired my work and asked for a picture with me and my creations. But I’d say NO of course, becuase I was in ‘the zone’, looking into the horizon with a paintbrush in my hand and distant look that is so necessary for creative thought.
It was a brilliant plan, and I walked through my office thinking, “any day now”, and smiling secretly and knowingly at everyone that the boss began dropping vague hints about a counseller that visited our workplace on Wednesdays.
Later, I visited the craft zone for an ‘interview’ as the notice called it. The place was more garage than craftzone. A few men sitting around, chilling as they could over a flask of hot chai and a ruthless Bangalore summer. Between it all, stood out this small wizened face, alert and poised as a question, with a characteristic cap perched on his head. He took in most of my requests with a look that seemed to say that perhaps I had gotten the wrong impression. His voice was firm, like I was a 2-year old who wanted toys at the supermarket, when he said “No, No Buddha for you. You are getting a fish and that’s that.”
Now, I wasn’t used to being talked to like this. I mean…I was the future sculpture artist, revered by so many. I mean…”Sir…I don’t want FISH!”
But for Sir, as I came to call him, I was only a Bachcha. In fact, everyone was. Some Bachchas had their own Bachchas, and grand Bachchas but that didn’t matter.
In a whirl, I was surrounded by artists and sculptors and clay modelers…it was like I had time-travelled and teleported all the way to the caves of Tanjore….Ganeshas, Buddhas, Stone, clay, metal, glass, a nose here, an eye there, the curl of the hair, the idols were breathing laboriously to life and staring straight into my face. Someone handed me a piece of resin clay, and I wondered when I had last touched something like this? School, perhaps? Decades ago? “But where is the oven?” I ask, “Don’t I need to bake this?”. This is stupid, it seems, and there is much laughter. For the back breaking effort they did, this lot was a jolly bunch. The clay in my hand, I touched and turned, and in my clumsy hand it struggled for life, finally collapsing, wilted. With a sigh, my master’s hand scooped it up, and there it became a leaf, a flower, a lotus, the curve of Buddha’s lip, a kind Ganesha eye that promised to watch over in good times and bad.
My breath was caught by this madness. I could do it too, they said. Just practice. The clay ball was really in my court.
I decide that perhaps a fish fountain wasn’t so bad.
I decide that sometimes art is just watching someone else do a good job and understanding why it is important to stick on to doing one thing even after you never want to do it ever again.
I decide that a temporary dabble in any kind of learning can do wonders for perspective.
As you can see, there is now a fountain in my home, and a pompous artist in my soul, and honestly, I don’t know which one is louder.
Next, read how I actually managed to create an Indoor Fountain, with detailed steps.