Kumbhar Wada, Dharavi Mumbai
I have spent the last week with the Galwani Family. They are a 7th generation potting family living in Kumbhar Wada ( potters colony), Dharavi, Mumbai. This colony was established in 1932 with potters from Gujarat escaping drought in their home state. The 3 sons Abbas, Yusuf and Hanif of Zakhria are bridging their traditional potters culture with a new era for the potters in this colony. Using new clays and gas firing they are producing stoneware pottery as well as low fired wares.
I was interested to observe the workings of this community as well as persuing my throwing experinces and from their 2nd floor workshop I was able to do this. From this door way I was able to see aspects of the potter’s working life. It looked onto a small couryard where there was; a community cotton waste fuel kiln, clay was prepared, pots and materials storage, washing dried and, it was a general walk way. The fish, vegetable, snack food sellers and others passing by.
Firing the kiln ( fibre roof.)
One of the numerous thoughts I am left with is how fortunate Australian potters are. Numerous clay choises in handy sized plastic, reliability of materials, spaces to work, knowledge of and choise related to heath hazards and a reasonable market for our population.
As to my own work, working beside Abbas and Yusef was challenging however I put this aside and struggled with Kumbhar Wada style throwing combining Rajasthani and Sandra techniques, and then with some guidance from Hanif arrived at a workable technique.
I was also taken on a ‘tour’ of the industrial side of Dharavi. I am left with an illusive sense of this place, people going about ‘work to live’ in cramped, and often unsafe places, any descriptions I could make would not do the people justice.