Jagriti Yatra Artwork In Full

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

At last I have managed to turn the 15 meter concertina sketchbook that recorded the last Jagriti Yatra journey around India into a digital format!

Jagriti Yatra detail blancheeellis.com 3

“Jagriti Yatra is an ambitious train journey of discovery and transformation that takes hundreds of India’s highly motivated youth, especially those who are from small towns and villages of India on a 15 day, 8000 km national odyssey to meet the role models – social and business entrepreneurs – of the country.

The vision of the Jagriti is ‘Building India Through Enterprise'”

Such an intense journey, living on a train with amazing people and experiences and transformed into this artwork by myself and Temujen Gunawardena

working in all sort of places and situations over a mad 15 days..

Jagriti Yatra detail blancheeellis.com 2

You can see the epic size of our art odessy here…

Jagriti yatra long cut 1Jagriti yatra long cut 2Jagriti Yatra long cut 3

So, to make it visible in the world of on-screen formatting I’ve divided it up in the gallery below for you to browse in detail… or…

Click here to see a video of the artwork in motion under the hands of myself and Temujen Gunawardena…

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Click the pictures to browse through the gallery…

Exhibition of the full artwork coming soon….

see previous posts for more drawings from my personal travel sketchbook

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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

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

Returned from Istanbul

art, drawing, Drawing in Public, Illustration, location drawing, location painting, metamorphosis, reportage

I am just returned for the 2nd time in 8 months from Istanbul. When I visited last year, feeling an amazing fondness and love for this city I didn’t expect to be back so soon but my illustration work found me out there just last week!

Of course I stayed on a few more days and had a wonderful time running round and drawing the sights (and buying crazy things like lemon salt!)

Here are some of the places and moments from the trip….

Babel Cafe
Istanbul - Babel Cafe - Last morning

This restaurant we had an amazing dinner, playing backgammon and snap, drinking red wine, eating phenomenal food and dancing round and sharing music with the lovely owner as we left. My friend Tem and I returned on our last morning for the most delicious breakfast dish ‘menemen’.

Late for our flight I didn’t have time to visit the beautiful junk shop pictured on the corner but this view is a familiar one I will return to easily as every road we took in Istanbul seemed to lead us back to the crossroads of the incongruous Pizza Vegas and The Babel Restaurant.

Istanbul - Limonlu - Tem

After the aforementioned evening Tem and I found a hidden away restaurant with a hidden away garden and tortoises wandering around… feeling wobbly we did portraits of each other (mostly without looking at the page) that came out just as wobbly as we were. Sitting on the swing seat and taking up two tables in this rather up-market restaurant, we recovered the will to go out and find the city.

Istanbul Limonlu resturant with hangover and memories of the night before

Sultanahmet  Istanbul - Sultanahmet and crowds

Last time I kept trying to visit the blue mosque, or Sultanahmet, during prayer times and didn’t see it. On this trip timing was better and I got to see inside. I had imagined it being bright turquoise and almost brashly vibrant, but actually the space has a very pale, etherial quality, accented by the blue and turquoise tiles and paint, but also by reds in the windows of the domes.

In contrast to the vast airy chamber surrounding them the crowd milled on a red carpet, every woman in a headscarf of course, even the westerners, and many men wearing the long cloth skirts they hand out as you enter to cover anyone in shorts. The hustle and bustle of the jostling people in their many colours was for me, an integral part of the view. I always find myself watching the watchers.

Elections and Princes Islands

Istanbul - view from ferry

On the eve of the Turkish election, the most important in 30 years which had everyone holding their breath as the Kurds waited to see if they could get enough percentage for representation, we took a trip to one of the Princes Islands. This is the view, leaving Istanbul on the ferry.

We walked to the top of the island and saw a wild horse, and sat, and sang, and looked at the sea. We returned to feast on meze at the house of our turkish friend and to celebrate the outcome of the election.

When we got on the boat to return ‘home’ to Istanbul and our hostel it was full of people dancing and celebrating and playing music. The atmosphere was incredible. The celebrations lasted the whole time we were there….. huge crowds in the street.

Istanbul – i’ll miss you and your colours, crowds and junk shops, steep streets and fine food, and fine people – I’ll be back again. Soon I hope.

Returned - Renewed

Returned – Renewed

One last memory for which I haven’t a picture – Waseem in the Juice shop – thank you for your sanctuary and sharing in our music in a moment that was needed. And for the token, hanging in my window.