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sifting through life lessons – taught by mud

Artist Sejal Mody leads us into the world of shaping ceramics with mud.

Manifestations in mud

Sejal emphasises on the all-expansive infinite potentials of mud that unravel something new each time she has worked with it. As a result, her experiments have transformed into jewellery, furniture, murals and more.

Infinite possibilities

Possibilities with mud are as expansive as the earth since its composition changes with terrain, altitude, rain conditions and so on. And techniques and opportunities with ceramics become as endless.

On making, baking and creating

You can’t always know or decide how mud behaves. It guides you to work accordingly. At times you push its boundaries. At times you hold back and the material takes lead.

Unpredictable avenues

Mud’s unpredictability also ensures that you are aware of each moment and this awareness keeps you very alive

The artist – Sejal Mody

Sejal Mody at work for an art exhibition in Jaipur.

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Showcase 05 Sep 2018

Musings on Mud: Artist Sejal Mody sifts through life lessons taught by mud

Mud. It nourishes as well as perishes life. Underneath the fingernails or even lying by itself, mud is deemed dirt. But Fuller’s earth, again mud, is slathered on the face and body for its therapeutic properties. From monuments to utilitarian objects, mud is omnipresent. Of these many manifestations of mud, artist Sejal Mody leads us into the world of shaping ceramics with mud.

Possibilities with mud are as expansive as the earth since its composition changes with terrain, altitude, rain conditions and so on. And techniques and opportunities with ceramics become as endless. This attribute of mud is what makes Sejal feel alive and connected to her art and forge deep connections with the medium – mud.

sifting through life lessons – taught by mud

Artist Sejal Mody leads us into the world of shaping ceramics with mud.

Manifestations in mud

Sejal emphasises on the all-expansive infinite potentials of mud that unravel something new each time she has worked with it. As a result, her experiments have transformed into jewellery, furniture, murals and more.

Beginnings in 2D

Mumbai-based Sejal received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Sir JJ School of Arts. Despite a thriving career in painting, Sejal felt a void in her work, a lack of inspiration and the monotony of working with the same techniques made her feel that she was repeating herself.

In terracotta she discovered the joy of creating form, moulding and shaping exemplary objects from something as basic and grounded as the earth itself. Post a one-month stint at Andretta Pottery in Himachal Pradesh, she returned to Mumbai empowered with the techniques and knowledge of working with mud. She says, “Even after I came back, I continued learning, creating and discovering mud. I invested in a wheel, a kiln and so on. I kept making and discovering myself in the process.”

Infinite possibilities

Possibilities with mud are as expansive as the earth since its composition changes with terrain, altitude, rain conditions and so on. And techniques and opportunities with ceramics become as endless.

Possibilities with mud are as expansive as the earth since its composition changes with terrain, altitude, rain conditions and so on. And techniques and opportunities with ceramics become as endless. 

The push-pull with mud

Each type of mud or clay has a unique colour which changes at each stage. Even the finished product continues to change colour with time. So at every step, be it moulding, drying, baking or glazing, the maker may face a glitch or surprise. It could be an unexpected colour, a crack or something. It is then up to the maker to mould this character into the design or find a way to work around it.

On making, baking and creating

You can’t always know or decide how mud behaves. It guides you to work accordingly. At times you push its boundaries. At times you hold back and the material takes lead.

In Sejal’s words, “Finding your way with the material is not preordained just because you are well-versed with technique. You can’t always know or decide how mud behaves. It guides you to work accordingly. At times you push its boundaries. At times you hold back and the material takes lead. But mud’s unpredictability also ensures that you are aware of each moment and this awareness keeps you very alive.”

Unpredictable avenues

Mud’s unpredictability also ensures that you are aware of each moment and this awareness keeps you very alive

Sejal also emphasises on the all-expansive infinite potentials of mud that unravel something new each time she has worked with it. As a result, her experiments have transformed into jewellery, furniture, murals and more, with so much opportunity even within a tiny frame of 1ft. x 1ft.. Her work and engagement doesn’t cease with production. She says, “I wait for the product to evolve, take shape and show its final form. You are never sure what form it will take, what results you’ll get. You wait and watch, like karma.”

You can’t always know or decide how mud behaves. It guides you to work accordingly. At times you push its boundaries. At times you hold back and the material takes lead.

Because we all go back to earth

Sejal offers an interesting analogy, “Being grounded is important. Like trees, we wish to grow higher, yearn towards the skies and sun. However, the higher it advances; the roots go deeper into the earth as well. And terracotta helps me stay rooted because while there are endless ways of producing with it, I consciously refrain from looking at what others are doing and find my own way with the material. That’s how I stay rooted yet grow, being authentic, but importantly, being true to myself.”

The artist – Sejal Mody

Sejal Mody at work for an art exhibition in Jaipur.

Footnote: Look up more of Sejal’s works here!