Arty Fact: Urn of immortality
Padma Vibhushan awardee K.G. Subramanyan was a leading painter, sculptor, muralist and print-maker. Most in the art world, though, fondly remember him as an educator. He had innumerable students, many of whom are celebrated artists today. One such mentee was ceramist P.R. Daroz. Born in a family of goldsmiths in rural Andhra Pradesh in 1944, Daroz studied applied art and sculpture in Hyderabad before going to Vadodara in 1967 to complete his master’s with a specialization in ceramics from MS University, where Subramanyan was the dean of the arts department.
At the time, Subramanyan had to work on a large-scale, commissioned clay mural. Daroz, who was working in the ceramics department, began to help out. Thus began a long-standing friendship that went far beyond pottery. Even after his graduation, Daroz kept in touch with Subramanyan and ensured that he visited his professor whenever he travelled to Vadodara. In 2004, Subramanyan inaugurated Daroz’s solo show in the city, focused on ceramics. In his speech, he pointed to the massive urns and jokingly asked Daroz whose ashes those urns would contain.
Twelve years later, Subramanyan died. While Daroz did not attend the funeral, he asked for some of his teacher’s ashes. He then replaced the calcium-phosphate (an integral part of glaze formulation and also found in bones) with the ash to make a pot—preserving the memory of his beloved teacher.