Image: Rekha Goyal in her studio
Rekha Goyal is a Mumbai based ceramic artist and entrepreneur. She creates commissioned art installations and functional objects under her own brand, Rekha Goyal. Her art and functional objects while serving different purposes, share her unique, minimal and earthy aesthetic language.
A few years ago, she created a vibrant community studio called the Pottery Lab. The Pottery Lab is dedicated to the education of ceramics and making ceramics an accessible art form. Her methodology and vision for the studio has created a thoughtful and humble community in the heart of Mumbai.
We at IN-D spoke to Rekha to understand her inspiration, goals and journey. We hope you are as inspired by her as we are!
Image: Landscapes Mugs by Rekha Goyal
I: What drove you to be an independent artist and start your own brand?
R: I have always wanted to work independently, since the time I was in school. While I wasn't clear what my choice of profession would be - one thing that was clear was that I wanted to create and build something of my own - and this has been a constant in my life. The joy of building something from scratch, getting your hands dirty, getting deeply and intensely into something. The joy of trying out new things, learning from your mistakes, the joy of being able to collaborate with others. Collaborations for me occur across fields - I have collaborated with musicians, even other entrepreneurs. The joy of coming up with ideas, pursuing them and watching them come to life. Figuring things out from scratch rather than following a set path. While some ideas meet failure, others work out and those are the ones we pursue. The nature of the ideas might change and they may grow into something else. And that's the joy of it - by doing you learn so much.
I: What inspires you to create your art?
R: It could be anything, a memory - a visual memory, it could be something that happened - an event. There isn't anything in particular. When I am creating an artwork for a space - I draw my inspiration from the space itself and the nature of the users of the space. For example, an artwork I had created for a Senior Living space - when coming up with the concept - I kept in mind the users who will be living with my art work each day. The key question is - what does my art bring to their life? Without compromising on my own aesthetic sensibility I like to keep this in mind and develop a concept accordingly.
Image: Flight of Bird Suspended Ceramic Installation by Rekha
I: How do you translate your inspiration to your functional products?
R: Sketches - lots and lots of sketches! I draw and then actually create 3D sketches in clay. This is a long process of creating iterations, testing them out and can take a while due to the nature of the art. Working with my materials is a slow process. I don't use moulds, everything is handmade. I like to keep my process simple using a minimal number of tools. Everything from clay to finished product is done in the studio itself.
Image: Rekha's Pottery tools
I: Where do you source your raw materials from?
R: All my raw materials are local - and by local I mean from India. My clay and other materials are mined in Rajasthan, my ceramic pigments are sourced from Mumbai. All materials are non-toxic and food-safe. I am particular about the way my materials are prepared, I prepare my own glazes in the studio and have developed my own recipes.
I: Who would you like your product's customers to be?
R: People who are sensitive and have a taste for raw, natural, earthy products. People who thrive on connections and rely on a sense of touch. People who appreciate simplicity. Simplicity of the process, simplicity of the designs - simplicity is often much harder than complexity. To reach a level of simplicity is a long and hard journey. People who want to live a rich lifestyle in terms of ethos. There is so much character in something handmade, there's personality, there's thought - and people who can see and feel this.
I: You are known for the community you have created in via the Pottery Lab, can you tell us some more about this?
R: The Pottery Lab is where I conduct pottery lessons and is also a community space for more seasoned practitioners and hobbyists. It was created out of the need of lack of access - but beyond physical access it is about access with a thought and methodology. Here beyond a physical infrastructure and being a teacher, I have developed an ethos. This includes creating a joyful, humble and mindful learning process for students and practitioners alike. We operate with a thoughtfulness, sensitivity and humility at the Pottery Lab.
Image: Smiling faces at the Pottery Lab
I: What does independent mean to you?
R: Independent to me means making a difference.
"For all independent professionals, creators, makers and small businesses who bring colour, vibrancy and balance to our lives. And for everyone who is extending their support, thank you.
Support entrepreneurship" - Rekha Goyal