Heritage Village Raghurajpur Inspires International Ceramic Artist’s Work

City Lights: Culture

Bhubaneswar, October 24: Odisha’s art and cultural tradition, though ancient, have never failed to charm artists and art connoisseurs across the world. Ceramic artist from Canada, Shirley Rimer’s series of ongoing artwork in ceramic ‘The Village, Raghurajpur’, is a vivid example of the influence of Odisha’s traditional art on artists working in different mediums. Exhibited at the View Point Gallery in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, her work is based on her impressions of Raghurajpur village in Odisha.

Rimer had visited Odisha in 2016 to participate in an artist camp held at Raghurajpur. During her month-long stay there, she got an opportunity to explore the village and learn the different popular art forms like making cow dung toys, papiermache, pattachitra, palm leaf carving, wood carving and dokhra art among others.

Informing MCL about her series of work, Shirley shared, “My work is a series of six sculptures that are representations of village homes of Raghurajpur with exterior paintings. I have elevated the pieces in order to make them appear even more precious. My working style is intuitive and I am not trying to reproduce what I saw, rather it is based more on what I felt.”

“There is a warmth at the surface, a kind of imperfection, which I feel captures all that I witnessed. They give a feeling of being lived in and of being a part of this community for a long period. I am happy with the results and I’m proud to present them as my sense of what I saw and felt in an experience that I feel has enriched my life in many ways,” she added.

A ceramic artist, living in Canada, Rimer has been working with clay and making sculptures for 35 years. She has over all these years, exhibited her work internationally. She loves to travel to a country of her interest, every two or three years and spend time doing a residency learning stint. She said, “I travel to get inspiration for my work. I usually create my work while attending artist residence programs and later, on returning home, I create art pieces which carry a direct influence of the place I have worked and lived in, albeit for a short period of time.”

Sharing further about what motivated her to create her new series on Raghurajpur, she said, “I had very strong impressions of this village-the people and, particularly, the culture. I wanted to express those feelings in my work and I felt that reproducing some of the homes of the village would be a good way to do that. Many of the homes there have beautiful paintings on their exterior. I was compelled to translate that in such a way that would be personal and would portray the beauty and the wonderful aesthetic that became so dear to my heart.”

While Rimer’s stay at Raghurajpur has left a long lasting impression on her, she says, “After spending five weeks at RIACE (Raghurajpur International Art and Culture Exchange) in October and November 2016, I came home with many strong feelings about Raghurajpur and India. I have travelled through many countries in the world, over the years, but I have felt a special attachment with this village. Since the moment, my plane landed in Bhubaneswar, I felt I was at home.”

According to her, the pattachitra paintings and working with cow dung was the most difficult part during the art camp.

“I learnt to make cow dung toys, papiermache and pattachitra. Nonetheless, making pattachitra paintings was difficult, as it had to deal with a lot of detailed work. Making toys with cow dung was a different experience. We even learnt making natural colours, making canvas for pattachitra from old sarees using tamarind paste and chalk paste,” she added.