India: Travels and Drawings – Part IV

art, drawing, Drawing in Public, Drawing in Public, Exhibition, folktale, Illustration, location drawing, location painting, Painting, reportage, sketchbook, Sketchnotes

Well, It was a while ago now and London has me swept up in all it’s fever again so this latest instalment of the India trip has taken a little while to come through but here it is.

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With the last few pages of my sketchbook and some of the work I did with Tem and the Jagriti Yatra and the last two weeks of our journey in the wake of the train ride, reeling from the intensity of our experience on the rails we made our way back up north…. to Rajasthan.. on one more long train.

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This was on the train North from Mumbai towards Pushkar. Tem made friends with family sharing our overnight compartment and taught the father origami. I painted his wife who was perpetually amused and always bursting into laughter. They bought some fruit from a lady with a basket on the platform at a station and offered us some. They were good. At each station people got off to wander, stretch their legs and buy stuff, only getting back on again once the train had started to grind lazily out of the station, walking or running alongside and jumping back in the doors.

Pushkar – Kite Festival

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This was undoubtedly one of the most joyful things I saw in India, and perhaps have ever seen – every man woman and child standing on their roofs in beautiful pushkar flying colourful paper kites that hung in proud tatters from trees and buildings and telephone wires for a long time afterwards.

You could get kites from 3 rupees and they were flown from dawn till dusk for days.

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Tem and I also met up with Anna who, marvellously, had a banjo with her. We spent some time together.

The Blue City…
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In Jodphur the streets are narrow and the buildings blue, and found ourselves a wonderful guesthouse that felt like an Indian Fawlty Towers. Highlights were Sunni, the father of the family coming into our room to sweep a dead pigeon out from under the old wooden sofa on the second morning – he had just remembered it was there – and finding the newspaper clippings of the cast of Darjeeling LTD who seem to have stayed there during filming.

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At the fort we found this couple with their baby singing songs, all of which were beautiful and apparently meant, roughly translated, ‘Welcome to Rajasthan’. We sang them ‘How am I doing’ or ‘Twee Twa Twoo’, the Mountain Man version in return.

Next – to Bagru… The Home of Block Printing

We took up the invitation of a fellow Yatri and visited Davis Cutter in Bagru where we saw the amazing production of the block printing techniques that are rooted there.

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The long fabrics are laid out in the ‘Fields of Colour’ throughout the village, it’s an exceptionally strange and beautiful sight at sunset, especially when the fabric is collected and the earth where they were laid is stained strange tints and colours.

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I had meant this to be the final post but must leave now so i will save the last of the trip for one final post!

Find previous posts on my sketchbook travels in India:

Here – Part I

Here – Part II

And Here! – Part III

Jagriti Yatra & India travels 2015-16

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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