India: Travels and Drawings – Part III

art

Third update on the India sketchbook…. the new books is bound and running ahead now – I got geeky and made another paper index.

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INDIA SKETCHBOOK:

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We were gradually coming to the end of the train ride, and our work with the Jagriti Yatra…thumb_IMG_5952_1024

We had a dance party at sundown at the Gram Vikas school on the final evening of 2015. Kids of all ages (up to and including people with more than a handful of decades) jumped around and played volleyball…

I did something unusual for me and went straight into watercolour to catch the movement of the crowd. Really satisfying, something I want to do more often.

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They had a House of Imagination – full of the kids art which was honestly so impressive. They had made these intricately cut out layered paper artworks that you put a light behind. The way the light filtered through the paper reminded me so much of the haze that I saw morning and night in india. In the city or the countryside the haze was so strong that items at different distances were set, just like cardboard cut outs, stepping back in layers of opacity.

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This style of cut out….

Near Deoria I saw an old man cycling along the edge of a field in the distance, he looked like cut out figure, pulled along by a string that ran below the rushes, in the delicately layered, cut-out theatre of dawn.

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And onwards we travelled – 450 strong – 600 with the full train crew. Somehow managing to alight at each place and return to our train intact…. during some Loooooong waits on the platform we started song circles.

And we drew….

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Our 10 meter long drawing growing and growing….

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Meanwhile, in my personal sketchbook…

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I got to draw this lovely lady on a very bumpy bus… she had the most beautiful face.

And I realised, at about this point on the journey, that I would forever miss being rocked to sleep by a train when the journey ended and I was living back on solid, steady ground, rather than rails.

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In the next part we travel to Rajasthan….

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Find the first two parts of the sketchbook-journey:

Here – Part I

And here – Part II

India travels 2015-16.

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More artwork from this and other projects:

@blancheellisart

 

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Interview with The LondonY

art, Camden, drawing, Drawing in Public, Drawing in Public, Illustration, location drawing, location painting, London Underground, press, reportage, sketchbook, Sketchnotes

I really enjoyed this interview with Nastasia of The LondonY. Effectively someone else asking many of the questions I should ask of myself and causing me to have a good look at what’s going on in my art, life and music.

What I do, and why,

and how.

Don’t know about ‘upcoming’, but wherever I’m at, I’m happy here for now : )

Blanche Ellis talks art, folk and how to portray people on the train without getting noticed.

Read the full interview on the LONDONY website here

studio blanche

India: Travels and Drawings – Part II

art, drawing, Exhibition, Illustration, location drawing, location painting, metamorphosis, Painting, portrait, sketchbook, Sketchnotes

For the first 15 days in India this was our mad itinerary,

 travel by night…

new place each day….

except for when we travelled for up to 42 hours without stopping.

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In all the different places Tem and I met projects and role models for social entrepreneurship and took graphic notes, on walls, and floors, and trains…. all over India

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And in the meantime I kept my personal sketchbook going…

Instalment II of India Sketchbook follows:

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We visited Gram Vikas and heard about their work in community health particularly their surrounding water and sanitation in rural areas. We visited the village pictured above. It was beautiful, particularly the amount of care that went into decorating each home and the hand-painted entrances and doors… but also very strange to be 450+ outsiders walking through a small village, looking at peoples homes.

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Mohit from the School of Social Entrepreneurs  – on the left was our bunk mate and a great host (despite being a guest himself on the train.) He never looked that glum in reality.

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At the amazing stone carved and brightly coloured temple in Madurai I experienced a ‘blessing’ form a ‘boff’ on the head from an elephants trunk.  It felt a bit like a head hug.

We ran drawing workshops in our compartment on the train some evenings and the lovely Kinjal was a great model! Amazing bone structure and poise. It was great to facilitate other peoples artwork, come up with games and do a little teaching along the way. It’s something I really enjoy.

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I occasionally had a moment in my own mind and came out with the strangenesses therein… and drew the cities flying by the train window.

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More strangeness from my head, after having an allergic reaction to UV light (which is a problem I have with sunny places). I thought about how even when bodies are broken, failing, somehow undermining their own purpose… still they’re strangely fascinating and beautiful things. Maybe this is one reason I’m so drawn to the image of the twisted body. I doubt anyone does, but I certainly don’t know what it is to have a ‘perfect’ body. The imagery that I relate to, internally, that comforts me, and that which fascinates me, is not the ‘ideal’ but the fragile, twisted Egon-Shiele-like bodies. They are so alive, not in spite of their defects and distortions, but because of them.

Their tension is their life.

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In contrast to this, is the watercolour on the right hand page above.

On new years day, for the first time, I used the UV filter film that I have recently discovered. I put it on a window, and sitting at my train seat, with my sketchbook, curtained off from the rest of the world I sat with the sun on my face for the first time in some years. It was beautiful. And I watched the sun come up through the haze, a blood-orange rag in a haze-cotton sky, and watched it sink, grey and purple into the black.

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Sunlight Spills From My Window Sill 01/16

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India travels 2015-16.

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More artwork from this and other projects:

@blancheellisart

INDIA: Travels and Drawings

art, Drawing in Public, exhibiton, Illustration, location drawing, location painting, Painting, reportage, Sketchnotes

The Jagriti Yatra.

 Jagriti = Awareness
Yatra = Journey

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This charity runs a yearly train journey around India. It is inspired by the journey Gandhi took after returning from South Africa 100 years ago. It takes over 400 young Indian social entrepreneurs to meet role models and experience the diversity of their own country from the biggest cities to its most rural outposts. They examine the strengths, weaknesses and challenges their country faces, and explore and discuss avenues for positive social change through entrepreneurship. Working in partnership with Temujen Gunawardena I lived on the train will the Yatri’s and created a 10 metre long illustration capturing the content and experience of the journey. We plan to exhibit the piece in London in 2016 before returning it to the Jagriti Yatra team in Mumbai.

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Working on the JY train…..

More images will follow but below is one detail of the 10 metre long drawing that Tem and I made to document the journey, life on the train and the sights we saw, the experiences we shared and the talks and ideas discussed along the way.

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During the travels I naturally kept my own sketchbook journal. The first book I have bound from scratch and the orange cover of which is now scratched, scuffed, stained and filthy, the binding knocked out of all shape. And it is full of colour on the inside too. Here are some experiences from the book…….. It is so long I may have to put it up in instalments.

India Sketchbook: Episode 1:

The book begins:

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A book I newly bound.

Now a worn and frayed old friend.

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A portrait of myself by the lost and found artist Sharath Koona.

The start of a new journey.

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The opening ceremony for the Jagriti Yatra – Gauri Sharma Tripathi teaches us all how to do the Jagriti Yatra dance that we will perform almost every one of the next 15 days, often multiple times! I see an explosion of colour and fabrics. Over the travels, glancing out of train windows, I see the people of India pass as we whirl 8000km around the country from Mumbai to the South, to the East, North and then back down to Mumbai. I capture the impressions and moments of the people, I would say passers by, but being on the train, I was the passer by. They are waiting on platforms, heaving luggage and walking alongside the track.

In the city, Mumbai, on arrival one of my first thoughts, rushing through the city in a taxi, seeing the shops, the cards, bikes, buildings and millions of wares for sale:

Everything is leaning… there are no ‘right’ angles here.

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My traveling companion and partner in line and colour – Tem – experiencing jet-lag in the restaurant we ate our first dinner in. Oh delicious dosa with coconut yum. You are the best.

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The Yatra begins. It involves talking, listening, learning, dancing, good food, exploration and glances out of train windows at fleeting figures on train platforms… This old lady’s dress was a magnetic magenta shade above the yellow dust and blue shadow.

More to come in…

Sketchbook-Journey-Part-II

India travels 2015-16.

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More artwork from this and other projects on Instagram and Twitter @blancheellisart

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Next sketchbook is under construction.

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