IN GOOD COMPANY: Mehta (second right), with Suzanne McManus, Bev Manley Duncan and D.K. Duncan. (Photo: Jamaica Gleaner)
Though his dazzling cloud-white hair marks him as a man of a certain number, Jag Mehta laughingly shields his age like the fiercely guarded KFC secret. But while he remains faithfully mum on that personal subject, the Indian-born, inspiringly wise ceramicist has no problem freely discussing his art and aspects of his home life. TALLAWAH gets an earful:
TALLAWAH: Your earthenware pieces continue to draw oohs and aahs from admirers. How has your approach to your work evolved over the course of your career?
Jag Mehta: It's definitely different now than it was a decade ago. Normally when I'm working with clay, the clay is telling me what to do with it, because I don't use the electric wheel, so there is no motion, no momentum going on. So because I am working slowly, the clay tells me what to do with it.
Fascinating. Have you ever had opportunity to go into local high schools and colleges to impart your knowledge. Art education in Jamaica could use some of your timeless wisdom.
I never had a chance to teach because I had a full-time job as a hotelier. I worked with Super Clubs for over 20 years. But, yes, I would love to teach, but on a part-time basis. From January on, I'm gonna have a lot more time, now that I'm retired.
Retirement should also allow you to indulge a few of your other interests.
I do a lot of reading. I have a lot of cookbooks, apart from books on my profession.
So are you a magician in the kitchen?
(Laughs). I think so. I have cookbooks with recipes from every continent, but when I entertain, people expect me to cook Indian all the time.