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20/09/2019

Roshni Senapati: To Love And To Hold

I called Roshni in the lead-up to THREADS, opening tonight at The Studio, Paddington, to ask a series of questions for the MAKERS GALLERY blog.

I was keen to find out what Roshni likes to do outside of working as a Maker. Roshni shared with me that 50 percent of her passion lies in working with kids; seeing how children respond to what is put in front of them, the responsibility of putting things there and the difference it can make in their development. The other 50 percent is creating. Roshni mentioned she is also interested in gardening and loves to read. Though, creating is well-and-truly her passion. It is in her blood after all. She is a second-generation Maker.

Roshni grew up in Mumbai, India. Her mother, Dolly Irani, sewed, and worked as a Maker. Her aunt too. Roshni says textiles have always “been there”, even in university, when she shared a house with a student studying textile design. This common thread of textiles in Roshni’s life has brought her work to where it is today, with textiles having formed the framework for her works in THREADS.

“It was textiles, in particular their weaving, that informed decisions about form and colour,” says Roshni.  “Tall forms were based on spindles and the small vessels on weaving shuttles.  I saw the forms with subtle colour: variations of cream, like the shades of natural silk.”

I mentioned to Roshni my experience travelling to Mumbai several years ago. I remember being amazed by the colours of clothing, the colours in homes and on the streets of the city. The intensity of the city is something I expected to see reflected in Roshni’s work. In contrast, I discover that the works are gentle and delicate, quiet and contemplative.

From left to right: Stephanie Outridge Field (Curator of THREADS & THREADS Artist), Laura Pascoe and Roshni Senapati. Photos are by Tony Webdale.



This was Roshni’s first time working with porcelain.

Roshni’s work in THREADS is hand-formed. She held the vessels cupped in her palm for as long as it took for them to stiffen. It was important for the base of the vessels to remain curved, as Roshni loved the way the vessels gently rocked and found their point of rest.

“Using my thumb to press the clay and then applying pressure from my fingers, I found myself responding to the material in my hand.  It was like a little private conversation between the clay and my hand.  The pressure, the wetness of the clay, the size and the shape of the clay, all influenced the final form. They are truly gestural forms.”

It was from this that the name was born.

“To Love and to Hold”

Stephanie Outridge Field (Curator) says THREADS is about hand, heart and place. There is a gentleness about the work and uniqueness. Only Roshni’s hands could have made To Love and to Hold. The curves of the vessels were formed by the contours of her hands and then the smoothing by her fingers. The thin skin of glaze was formed by her rocking the vessels around in her hands, using just enough glaze for each to be gently coated.

“What really fascinated me was the way in which I started making the shuttle forms. Not wanting to waste the finely rolled-out bits of clay leftover from making the tall forms, I started making them in the palm of my hand because the amount of clay was just big enough to fit snugly.”

Threads from Roshni’s Mother’s sari.

“I guess that is now tied with the idea of repurposing thread from old and used garments. I treasure the things I learnt about the various pieces: when my mother wore the sari, where it was bought, the garment she sewed, and the stitches she used in her embroidery.  In that sense, the physical threads became a metaphor for the link between Mother’s life as a Maker and mine. The repurposed threads have their own stories and memories.”

Place

The many years Roshni has lived in Australia has strongly influenced her practice. Her time here presents itself in her work as all sorts of things: shells, leaves, tidelines, sand and seedpods. Her work in THREADS was inspired by time spent living in Weipa, a coastal mining town on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. It was here that Roshni connected with Lyn Bates. You can view Lyn’s work on the MAKERS GALLERY website.

“Looking at the work that we have produced for this exhibition, I am astounded by the synergy between it.  The pieces sit so well together and they seem to have the same sensibility about them. I can only put it down to the common influences of Weipa; the country and the culture, as well as all that I have drawn and imbibed from her work and our conversations over the years.”

Roshni’s previous exhibition at MAKERS GALLERY, BODYWORKS, was small, figurative and wearable. Though her work has evolved considerably, exactly two years later, there are still connections to it in the show. Stephanie tells me the small, wearable figures Roshni made for BODYWORKS relate to the tall forms in THREADS. They are long and cylindrical, inspired by dancers―the neck of the pots like the neck of a dancer and the form characteristic of the movement and fluidity of a dancer’s body.

Lost Thread. Available on the Makers Gallery Online Store.

The tall forms were dipped in a very thin layer of glaze, giving them slight colour variations and tidelines.

THREADS is precious and delicate, thoughtful and considered. We invite you to visit and spend time with the work. Look inside it, look underneath it, hold it, admire it and form your own connections.

The show is open Saturday 21st of September 2019 & Sunday 22nd of September 2019 at The Studio Brisbane, 139 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington. Thereafter, at MAKERS GALLERY, 53 Jackson Street, Clayfield.

THREADS is also available to view and buy online.


You may have noticed we have re-launched our blog. Therefore, many interviews have been removed, including our BODYWORKS interview with Roshni. The interviews have all been archived. If there are any old favourites you would like to read again, please let us know.