The history of glass making in Firozabad dates back to the Mughal era, when the then rulers brought artists from Persia to the small town in today’s Uttar Pradesh and they set up shop in Firozabad to craft all sorts of glassware spittoons, dishes, vessels, bottles and other artifacts. Glass bangles were the biggest selling item, which continues till this day. With the advent of better furnaces and technology, the quality of items created has vastly improved over the years. Some of it elevates into art.
Take the case of a galaxy created by blown glass. Inspired by man's exploration of space, and the various hues of celestial bodies, an art work titled My Glass Galaxy, which was showcased at the recent Serendipity Arts Festival, brings alive the ethereal quality and mysteriousness of planets and stars through the medium of blown glass. Artist Srila Mookherjee, who learnt the art of glass blowing under Anthony Stern in London, has set up her studio in Kolkata. Using only indigenous material, she feels the vessel form is the epitome of beauty, and serves as an ideal vehicle for her ideas and creativity.
From the vastness of the universe to the smallest of living beings, blown glass does justice to it all. An art work called Utopian World: Sentient Beings celebrates every living being's existence on this planet. Dainty glass replicas of insects, reptiles, birds, plants sea dwellers, and more are a visual delight. The message by artists Swagata Naidu, Rajesh Sharma and Zafar Ahmed is one of equality, that even if man is superior to others, they all deserve the right to share all of nature's resources equally, receiving and giving in equal measure. Only, the thought in today’s circumstances is utopian, with humans usurping most resources of the earth, leading to extinction of hundreds of species everyday.
A similar message emanates from Antic, an installation in glass beads and metal by Manoj Pilli, Vineeta Oswal and Ishtiyak Ali. Tracing the movement of ants, the work wonders if there is order in the chaos represented by ants. Do they have clarity or are they ignorant. However, the small insects do teach their observers that a disciplined and hardworking collective can move elephants.
If only life could imitate art.