Channeling #India

We have spent the morning using local traditional designs, well documented and recorded in a directory of Indian paintings, to create our own version. We have a number of official tutors and the random visitors who seem to want to just know who we are and where we are from.

The studio is a long building that serves as a production centre and a social creative space. The room smells of familiar materials such as paint, glue, paper and has a miscellany of papier-mâché masks, sculptures, posters and photographs around its walls. The sun is hot today and prepping cloth with layers of glue and chalk takes only a few minutes to dry.

I’ve chosen to work from a sculpture of Ganesh for my painting. This is hanging on the studio wall covered in spider web. It is a really detailed design, I love the way the animal is shaped with realistic curves. It is stylised but also expresses the physicality of the elephant really well. The tutor made the sculpture and is happy for me to work from it.

I’ve made a number of sketches of it to get the scale down to the size of my canvas.

We are using a very limited palette of primaries plus white and black which follows the local tradition.

A border has been added to our canvas for us to start, this also appeals to my way of working. I am aware of the importance of borders in design and painting so great to make a start with good inspiration and materials.

taking a break outside the studio, I saw monkeys, long tailed macaques?, running along the village walls and up the coconut trees. Apparently they are wary of people but will come to take a biscuit if encouraged to do so.

Today has started well with a breakfast of bread and honey. I hadn’t realised how much I missed a simple breakfast. Indian families eat curry at every meal. I like curry a lot but not for breakfast everyday!

Our studio is open from 10 am and I feel pleased with how my painting is going , the design has to include quite a lot of pattern and references to nature. I love water lilies/ lotus flower and they appear a lot in Indian visuals so to be shown how to represent them is a real treat.

Today there is a special festival celebrating the goddess Dhurga everyone is looking very relaxed and we have more visitors today. All are very encouraging and there are quite a few English speakers wanting to translate for us.

We’ve finished our first painting and time to think about the next project. I’ve seen a hand painted coconut shell so might ask if I can have a go. I like the shape of them , it’s the outer green casing that is used. The tutor is very difficult to read, so it may or may not happen.

We’ve been invited to travel to Puri on Thursday by our cook. She is way into retirement age but we have been told the government gives her approx £3 per month to live on, she is looking after her own daughter and her grand daughter so her life is very hard. Despite this, she wants us to see her house and her life at the coast. So we will go. I’m looking forward to it but also to getting in the sea.


Visiting a partner arts organisation in rural #India

Arriving through a cyclone and experiencing monsoon type rain travelling was not anticipated. I didn’t know about the cyclone that had blown in across the Bay of Bengal until I was on the flight from New Delhi and by then it was too late to change my mind. My fears on not being met at the airport were unfounded. I have had nothing but welcoming looks and hospitality since arriving in Bhubaneswar.

My host Khitish even though I have never met him before, seems to share my passion for creativity and he exudes the desire to share his country, work and people. Because of the extreme weather I’m currently taking sanctuary at his mother’s house which is inland from Bhubaneswar, in Selebur.

The plan is now to stay with her and wait for the weekend when the weather is expected to be better and an artist from France will also arrive. We can then move into the village Raghurajpur where all the expert makers live

The house here is brightly painted, all the women have the most beautiful saris and the children don’t seem to be at school. It’s Friday so they may have a longer weekend. There is a number of festivals this month, to celebrate the goddess Dhurga.

After 2 days the rain has stopped and I e been able to walk around and take a look at the landscape. The house is surrounded by paddy fields and Khitish tells me this is the main food source since major flooding in 2009.

I’ve already seen water buffalo, a sacred cow and goats. There also white ibis and cattle egret on the fields. I am pacing myself even though I’ve already had a hair raising journey by plane car and moto to get here. I really haven’t quite adjusted to the time difference and I can sense that I feel the routine of UK habits creeping in, I’m also trying to allow myself to adjust to a much spicier experience at mealtimes and no coffee ouch!

The need for language is so desperate but I’m making use of local children to get them repeating words to me in English and in return they are correcting my Hindi pronounciation

A walk into the market, which is the permanent stalls and shops that line the main thoroughfare, involves traversing sand paths and waterlogged roads to where you can buy anything from mobile phones to marigold garlands

Luckily for me , Khitish’s Mum is an excellent cook