Rhapsody of Colour and Design – Ratika Kaul

by pavan
Rhapsody of Colour and Design - Ratika Kaul

Ratika Kaul’s artistic practice goes far beyond the walls of her studio. Fashion and jewellery designer, an artist and a stylist, she is indeed “an artist at heart, stylist by soul, designer by choice and passionate by nature.” Ratika started her creative journey “through the portals of filmmaking” and launched her signature jewellery line in 2004. Giving both her name and her vision to the label, for Ratika,  it is nature and art form details that speak the loudest, structuring her compositions around bold simplicity. Her creativity also comes to the fore with gold, silver, precious and semi-precious stones.

Ratika Kaul’s artistic practice goes far beyond the walls of her studio. Fashion and jewellery designer, an artist and a stylist, she is indeed “an artist at heart, stylist by soul, designer by choice and passionate by nature.” Ratika started her creative journey “through the portals of filmmaking” and launched her signature jewellery line in 2004. Giving both her name and her vision to the label, for Ratika,  it is nature and art form details that speak the loudest, structuring her compositions around bold simplicity. Her creativity also comes to the fore with gold, silver, precious and semi-precious stones.

Her artistic evolution took place amidst the pandemic where she launched a collection of exclusive hand embroidered sarees this year in March and showcased a series of 3-dimensional sculptural paintings along with it. “I felt so elegant and graceful in sarees myself that the need to create what I visualised led to ‘All things floral,’ which was also a convenient method of expanding my business. It was set back because of the pandemic, but I managed to launch my collection in March this year with a few tweaks and tugs,” she states. She further adds, “All my ventures are modes of creative expression. I have grown as an artiste while designing jewellery and sarees.” Here, she talks us through her world of inspirations and the curator’s spirit that drives her approach to layering…

Your experience within the arts is so extensive and varied, incorporating many different areas of practice, including jewellery design, fashion design as well as arts. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be involved in the creative field, and how did you first startout in the industry?
I believe in making every moment of my life count. I live by the Roman poet Horace’s quote, ‘Carpe Diem,’ which is so beautifully explained in the movie Dead Poets Society that is brilliantly enacted by one of my favourite actors, the late Robbin Williams. He infused so much passion into the scene as he inspires the students to live their life the fullest. And I endeavour to begin each day with the same enthusiasm and follow my heart. I was always fascinated by a good story and wanted to create and tell some of my own, only I chose not words but metals and fabric to weave mine.

Having studied English literature and mass communication, I worked in Mumbai with Plus Channel, a television production house with Amit Khanna and Mahesh Bhatt, and as a film executive at Lintas Bangalore. I learnt so much and extensively. While working with my husband Sharad Haksar, a fashion and advertising photographer, as a fashion stylist, found myself inspired to express my creative energy.

I think the seeds of my creative work were sown when I studied the history of art briefly in school and while doing literature honours in college. The film appreciation course in SCM helped me gain a varied perspective. At Plus Channel, I had the opportunity to co-create an Art Magazine series of 13 episodes for Doordarshan called Broad Canvas, where I interviewed popular artists in Mumbai and showcased their exhibitions.

I launched my signature jewellery line 16 years ago, a collection of exclusive hand embroidered sarees this year in March and showcased a series of 3-dimensional sculptural paintings along with it.

Having such a varied portfolio of work, how have you managed to balance your work as an artist and a designer? What is the role that is most important to you within this broad spectrum of practice?
Before learning this technique of sculptural painting, I did a couple of series in oils with a palette knife. One was abstract and the other flowers mimicking the impressionist stream. These were done for more personal reasons, like a meditating technic to ground my restless energy. Whereas designing jewellery and sarees is a more structured practice that demands discipline and a business sensibility that I borrow from my surroundings.

Can you tell us a bit of how you started your jewellery label, your ethos behind it and how you collaborate with Indigenous Art Centres and Aboriginal artists to design the textiles utilised to create your garments?
There is no boundary to the imagination, and that fuelled by visual stimulation has led me to create designs rooted in the classic and finished with a contemporary touch. I work with silver and gold, both semi-precious and precious stones.

I am Kashmiri by origin but have had the good fortune to live in different parts of the country because my father served in the army. Our country has so much to offer in terms of culture and craftsmanship.

My husband and I have travelled across the world on road trips; while he shot his travel series, I soaked in whatever met the eye. After visiting Holland, I did a series called Botanikainspired by the garden there. Paris and the Mughal influences of Kashmir led to Intrika. Iceland was where I felt fused with the energy of God, on seeing nature almost untouched by man. I brought back pebbles from the black beaches and did an entire series set in silver, very Scandinavian in look and feel, which were first showcased at Nicobar in Chennai. Trips to the neighbouring Islands of Maldives resulted in Azurika.

Sources of inspiration being the same, I use hand embroidery to embellish my sarees. They are such a beautiful canvas to create on. Hand embroidery is an art that I hope will be promoted more before it fades away. I draw out motifs and watch them take shape almost like magic as the embroiderers skilfully sew in the stitch after stitch. It’s a luxury that we can still afford in India.

India has a rich body of weaves in silk to offer. I am currently working with this soft tussar silk. The weave feels earthy in its unpolished, raw feel and form.

How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal?
I have been styling still photo shoots for the last 25 years; this has helped develop a sense of what works for each client. I conceive my ideas and sketch them out on my own; of course, there are external influences, but what makes them unique is my very eclectic sensibility and the fact that they are classic pieces; most people can make them their own.

As for many, coronavirus has challenged the way the creative industry and artists approach their work. How did the pandemic affect you? How have you had to adapt to new ways of working and creating artwork?
We have learnt to work around the pandemic creating, bespoke pieces to suit the requirement of the buyers. In fact, I was super productive during the lockdown as I spent six hours a day sculpting and painting. The joy of creating with my own hands is immeasurable. It helped in more ways than one; I had a series of 30 sculptural paintings all set to be sold when the world opened up.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a new collection of jewellery and sarees for the upcoming festive season and designing a range of draped dresses too.             – Pics: Sharad Haksar

 

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