Playing With Fire.

by Niilofur Farrukh

“I do not sleep when I am firing my pots. I just sit and watch the kiln, imagining the stages the glaze goes through,” says Salman Ikram, who is acknowledged as an exceptional ceramist of this generation, even by his peers.
After six years as a professional ceramics artist, Salman Ikram‘s passion for his work has not diminished. The recent collection on display at Karachi’s Chawkandi Art is indicative of a progressive development as he continues to challenge himself with new forms and glazes. The struggle has not been an easy one; often he feels it’s the lack of suitable clay that reins in his imagination.
“I do not sketch my pots ahead anymore, they come spontaneously,” says the potter. Two glaze techniques have been used extensively throughout the show. One is the volcanic glaze that bubbles and erupts, leaving shared-like remains on the surface. The second is the crystalline glaze which leaves a satin smooth finish. Pots with the crystalline glaze sparkle as the natural light catches the embedded tiny crystals just beneath the clear glaze of the surface. Depending on the light in which it is seen, the iridescent colors alter the vibrancy of the pot. It’s only at close quarters and in a focused beam that it radiates tiny rainbows to the viewer.
Salman Ikram works daily in his studio to throw and glaze. “It took me over a hundred glaze experiments to finish these 60 pieces for the show, “he explains. His passion continues to drive him to spend many sleepless nights as he waits to deliver his pots from the kiln.
“Remember, unlike other artists, we put our best work in the fire … if something goes wrong, I cannot even open the kiln and take it out.”
Originally presented in Newsline, December 2005 issue, pp.116.