Nandita Jain, founder of Merraki Art Studio and the CSR Head of Inox Group, speaks to Guardian 20 about her interest in sculpting and how that led her to set up her own art studio.
Q. How did your family background and early years in Calcutta help you to shape your skills as a sculptor?
A. I grew up in Calcutta. My mother is a painter, thus I had an early exposure to fine arts. And it made me sensitive and appreciative of every fine art in its varied aspects. I trained as a classical singer. Calcutta is a very artistic city and it fueled my passion to explore and appreciate fine arts. My father was always fond of beautiful object de art. He had a fantastic eye and collected shawls, ivory and pichvais.
Q. What was the vision behind opening Merraki Studios at this stage in life?
A. By nature I cannot sit still. I am very active. My kids grew up and besides enjoying spending time with my grandchildren, I yearned to do more. Since I was travelling to London, often I did some short courses at Sothebys, Victoria and Albert Museum. I also did a month long course at The Baroda School of Art. I concentrated on sculpturing as that particular art form intrigued me and fulfilled me. I feel satisfied giving a sculpture shape and form. I find this medium very intriguing and fascinating.
Q. What does Merraki mean? Tell us about your favorite sculpture that you have made and how long did it take to create?
A. My all time favorite is my set of laughing hippos which took around a week to 10 days to make. I love my laughing hippos because they were my first and they were my lucky mascots. I am often told my sculptures are positive, bring a feel good factor and happiness around them. Merraki means purity and a part of yourself in what you create. It’s a Greek word.
Q. How do you balance work and home life so impeccably?
A. Basically the secret lies in being organised and team work. My mantra is plan, plan and plan beforehand. I have this notepad that travels with me wherever I go. I write down everything and anything that comes to my mind. But I do have a great team and it’s important to acknowledge that each team member is different. Understand each one of them, their strengths and delegate work.
Q. What advice do you have for today’s modern women?
A. Only women can support women. My advice to women is it’s never too late to follow your passion. For then whatever you do, you will stay motivated. It’s not necessary to succeed in everything. But I feel motivation will surely help you succeed. Follow your interest. Prepare yourself mentally. You can and must reach for the stars in everything you desire to do.