All images credit: Pooja Verma

Five-years-ago, Pooja Verma used to work as a Business Consultant at a US based company earning a lucrative income before she took the daring leap of faith into the arts.

“I didn’t prepare myself at all but my soul used to haunt me when I used to work until late night making Power-point slides and crunching numbers which I always hated,” Pooja shares with me via email.

The stress of working in a routine environment broke her spirit bit by bit as she used to breakdown in the office numerous of times. The only thing that kept her going was sketching during work hours.

“I sketched in those long meetings with permanent markers on A4 sheets – thanks to the office’s stationary supply.”

I could relate with Pooja, having worked in a corporate environment previously, I could picture Pooja feeling as though she was a mindless robot conducting the same routine tasks day after day. Though it may sound offensive to some, but for many – working in a corporate environment is not their calling.

Born in Sangaria – a fully developed city in the Indian state of Rajasthan – much of the 33-year-old’s artistic influence came from her richly colourful Rajput culture.

“Rajasthan is very rich in terms of cultural tradition and artistic style. It has been a big centre and state of art and craft especially in painting and infrastructure,” Pooja shares with me.

The decorative traditional colourful artwork of the state is widely famous in the world and highly sought after by art connoisseurs.

“Bright colours are largely used in our traditional wear, decoration and art creations,”she says, adding that red seems to be a favorite among her people.

All of these are clearly reflected through her Ketli – Indian aluminium kettles. Turns out, Pooja is the only one who is capable of creating these exquisite pieces of Rajasthani art in Malaysia.

Now married and residing here, Pooja only began her foray into painting kettles when she was 27 despite arting since she was a little girl in India.

Her kettles made their Malaysian debut when in December 2015, Pooja’s friend who owns a famous Indian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur approached her to prepare Indian folk art for an Indian themed party.

“We were sitting at her restaurant and I observed those plain kettles on our table and remembered that I have painted similar size kettles in India back in 2010,” Pooja says, adding that she agreed to paint two kettles for her friend.

It was an easy feat for her as she had grown up in a household where her mother and sisters painted bed-sheets and vases as a hobby.

“I didn’t think of anything but thought of those art designs which has Rajasthani men, women, a camel and few other symbols in Indian traditional style.” she says, adding that her friend loved the designs.

In May 2016, Pooja was roped in to be part of the KL Indie Fashion Week (KLIFW) 2016 exhibition at Publika. There, all of her hand painted kettles were sold out in two-days.

Each kettle is painstakingly hand painted in acrylic. Each one is given a unique design with the painting process ranging from a couple hours to days – depending on the intricacy and complexity of its design.

Five-years on, Pooja says she has made the best choice. “I have found myself again.”

“Prior to leaving my job, I filled my house with art supplies and made hand made gifts for friends and family.”

However, the self-taught artist does not want to be a prisoner of style.

“I try different medium and things like table, wooden palette, cutting board, wooden spoon, metal trunks, storage boxes, and what ever I could get my hands on.”

Pooja also organises art workshops for adults and kids every weekend at Mont Kiara. Apart from that, she also organises birthday paint parties, bridal shower paint parties, wine and paint nights in Kuala Lumpur.

“All of these keep me moving. Weekends are the busiest but I’m happy and enjoy working with kids the most.”

Art, Pooja says, is therapeutic and is a journey of self-discovery.

Everyone is an artist and creating a non purpose piece which opens your heart and frees your soul is essential. If you want to feel the feelings, paint it.”

Pooja is set to showcase her Indian artistic influence at Art Battle Malaysia #2 tomorrow at Inti International College, Subang Jaya. Other artists who will be battling it out are; Anna Sabrina
Arif Rahman, FayFay Xiao Ting, Jean Lynn Chang, Komeil Zarin, Mona KV, Juan Villanueva, Jiet Wong, Ahmad Syahmi and Jerome Liew! The battle starts at 1.30pm and ends at 4pm!

Follow Pooja on Facebook and check out her website. Here’s more detail on Art Battle Malaysia #2. Are you an artist who wants to be featured? Email us at editors@eksentrika.com So, what do you think of Pooja’s works?