Monday, October 14, 2019

Swoon Alert

Swoon alert
The embroidery traditions of Romania are completely swoonable.
In much of the country you will find examples in museums, perhaps on guests at a wedding or other significant life event.
A group of women meet regularly in Bucharest to learn how to embroidery their own traditional garments and wear them with pride.
In the far north east of the country they come out for Sunday best Church going every week and what a sight it is.
Each region has a different style and then there is personal innovation within that framework... you are showing off your skills so you can imagine the planning and care that goes into creating them.
Fine stitching and perhaps subtle bling from beads and sometimes sequins. Hmmmm lovely.

Our friend Reka makes a wonderful model trying everything on.... such fun at the village market

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Gandhi inspires me

Be the change you want to see in the world

150th Anniversary of Gandhi's birth. What would he say if he could see India now?
He did say
"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any"
#inclusion #freedom #openarms #tolerance #fairtrade

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Busy time of year

One of my favourite times of year
-actually I could say that most months.....
but now it is Rajasthan Tours time and they are our first baby and special.

I love to wander, very happy to tuck a group under my wing and show them people and places I love. It is a buzz.

This year our Teacher's Tour- a collaboration we have run with Liz Smith for the better part of 10 years I think
[question to self- why did you not keep better lists back then?
- Answer well I did but back in those days when your computer croaked it you did not have back up!! Now we have external hard drives and clouds and things are still around. .... 8 or 9 years ago when things went down the gurgler, they stayed there !!
self- OH OK]

and at the end of the week our Rajasthan Tour starts.
We have to skirt Diwali and this year that caused a little overlap. Praveen is looking after the Liz group, I will start with our Raj people and he will catch us up a few days later in time to play indigo out our place.

We have also been super busy and enthusiastic working on new ideas.

One I am are super excited about is "Sketching with Jo Beal- on the road to Rajasthan"
Years and years ago we did a Sketching Holiday Tour to Vietnam, I really enjoyed it and have wanted to follow up on the idea ever since.

One of those I beena gunna things [for non Aussies that translates to "Something I have been meaning to get to...." ]

Well here it is.

Jo has kindly contributed a blog entry for me to introduce herself....I know her as a fun person we have travelled with, who I have greatly admired watching draw and wanted to join in. Here is our chance.... wow has she been immersed in the Arts for ever- check her history :)

Meet Jo

I’ve always had a passion for art, for drawing, painting, stitching and working with natural materials. As a girl I loved drawing and would be so excited to receive a new pack of coloured felt-tips for Christmas (I still am!), or a colouring book or other creative activity. I enjoyed art at school and went on to study General Art and Design at Basingstoke College of Technology, followed by gaining a B.A.(Hons) in Public Art/Art for Architecture at Chelsea School of Art.

I’ve lived in Swindon, Wiltshire for 12 years and I’ve worked in arts development for 25 years. I have devised and delivered all sorts of community arts events and worked for charities, the Arts Council, Local Authorities and arts organisations.  

In recent years I was the Artistic Director for Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, running an international street festival and carnival. I currently work part time as a freelance arts project manager for internationally renowned arts organisation Kinetika, which combines world-class design with community projects to produce spectacular outdoor events that engage diverse audiences all over the world. This summer I walked 147 miles around the Thames Estuary as part of Kinetika’s annual walking, taking and making festival T100 – Welcome to the Kitchen Table. I also lead drawing workshops for Kinetika as on a project for the Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme called CommunityMapping – 100 Stories.

Since 2016 I have been delivering my Adventures inArt Journaling workshops in art centres and community venues in and around Wiltshire as well as outdoors, combined with walking and exploring. My aim is to help people build a daily creative habit in a fun and experimental way trying out different approaches to art journaling including drawing, block printing, collage and creative lettering. I provide top tips on tools and techniques to inspire people to fill their sketchbook pages with amazing art, gaining confidence in their drawing along the way, and most importantly, really enjoying it!

In 2016 and 2017 I kept a daily drawing diary. I bought a small regular diary, the sort that shows one week to a page. The daily entries provided enough space for a small drawing to capture something interesting or significant or memorable about the day. Each drawing was quite quick to do, and I like to look at the whole page as one composition and help the viewer through it, as if telling a story.

I’m inspired by nature and love to walk in forests and up mountains, collecting interesting and beautiful samples to draw. In 2018 I made a whole year of nature drawings. I did a daily drawing of plants and flowers as the seasons changed. Some drawings I did fairly quickly in say 30 minutes, others took much longer, even up to four hours! But this is what happens when you get the drawing habit and become engrossed in a subject, you get absorbed and time flies. You also end up feeling really good as drawing can really help you to focus and relax.

I set up Urban Sketchers Swindon in 2016 and we soon became an Official UrbanSketchers Chapter. In March 2018 we were featured in the organisation’s DrawingAttention publication. We meet once a month to draw, share ideas and support each other.

I also set up Swindon Samba in 2009. I played in the band for about 5 years, and sometimes led it too, until work commitments took over. The band is still going strong. They’ve changed their name to Ministry of Samba and have just celebrated their 10th birthday! Sometimes I think about joining in again as I love the rhythm of the drums.

I love to travel and have enjoyed three tours with Fiona and Praveen, two to India and one to Vietnam. Spending each day with sketchbook in hand and capturing as many of the sights and 
sounds as possible in it is such a joy for me. A bit like my drawing diaries of 2016 and 2017, I like to fill a page with a whole range of drawings of different experiences, sometimes using lettering to connect drawings up or to express a feeling or capture something I’ve heard.

I take my sketchbook everywhere and can be found drawing on the train, or sitting in amongst the bracken in the forest, or at other times staring at a portrait in a gallery and copying it to try and understand how the artist painted it. In Vietnam this year I discovered I could draw whilst in a mini bus, which was fantastic!

Saturday, September 07, 2019

bit busy

Running out the door next week to see my Ozzie Grandkids,
Can't wait

All a bit busy here,
Got lots of new ideas happening at Creative Arts Safaris, workshop is ticking along nicely even if a bit soggy still.
The rain still has not left.
Bulbir our pattern master and his cutting department have been kicked out of the machine room and he is so happy, he has more space and a bigger table on the verandah and we can fit 3 or 4 new machine people in the machine room.

One of our new ideas at Creative Arts Safaris is to Collaborate on tours.
We have a sketching tour coming..... more later. Well OK a hint.


We have Collaborated with the dynamic Gaelle Beech of The AnjelMs Project to craft a Rajasthan Tour for 2020.
Gaelle is passionate about khadi, natural dye, hand stitched recycled sari silk, fair trade and women's work...just look at her outfit. She has been a huge supporter of our workshop The Stitching Project .
This trip came about because she wanted to let friends and her loyal clients share what she loves about India.
Great itinerary so we are sharing it with everyone as our Rajasthan offering for 2020.
"Rajasthan- Community, Culture & Craftsmanship” inspired by Gaelle will be escorted by Fiona and Praveen

Hoping to get a CAS newsletter out this weekend.
We have had so much interest in our new Romanian Ramble.... only one more detail to sort.
Had everything in line only to realize EU Football cup rounds will be held in Bucharest on the weekend I want to arrive.
I want to be in Muramures for a Sunday and the first Monday of the month for a big farmers market so have had to make Bucharest a one night stop to start with and wait until the end to come back and really appreciate it. OH well.
Romania itself was so easy and home like but the getting there has been a long trail.

Life is never boring :)

Thursday, September 05, 2019

logic is a many splendid thing

Somedays it is crazy.
Our village has one through road and many lanes.
The guys who come to buy huge hampers of rose petals pull up in the middle of the through road and open shop.
I arrive, honk, honk to get them to clear the road.
The start the truck and pull 1 meter aside and all is good.
Would that have been easier in the first place?
Then I meet our native bird, resplendent in his new tail, calling to the girls.
I go slow and give him plenty of time to get off the road but he does a road runner thing for 500m before the idea sinks in.
Ohh India, you got to laugh.

I kind of thought it was universal
but really
there is a cultural element to what people consider logical ...

I do think language has a lot to do with it, too.
I am a native English speaker, we have a lot of words and like to define exactly what we are talking about from the start.
I live in India, here the approach is to give some much vaguer statement and then say "MUTLAB" translates to "meaning" and talk about it for 5, 15 or 35 minutes, have things as clear as mud and often go off and do something totally different.

Could drive you [ or my the Australian ] nuts I will tell you :) Haha

Do you laugh or cry. I try and opt for the laugh, most days.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Social Enterprise and Fair Trade

Excitement, we had our mate Gillian Travis and her son Luke pop in to visit.
We always keep in contact but it has been a few years since we could hang out together. [Anne, we know you will we see this and we wished you were here xxx]  next time :)

Anyway- Gillian is such a ball of energy, chin wagging was at warp speed, news exchanges, ideas swirling around, stories of this that and the other.... where have you been, what do you see, where are you planning to go next. 
Our boys eyes were popping over dinner, listening to Luke- he is an avid traveller and been to so many places, well informed too, so lots to tell us. He has been to far east Russia, you know where it almost touches Alaska!! First person I have met who has done that, and he hung out with guys that were surfing!!!

Beware icebergs not good for your health, lets hit the waves type surfing. Who would have thought it?

 Neither of us are good at standing still for photos, so here are some action shots as we muddle around.
She got to check out the new block rooms and have a fiddle, raid fabric stashes.... all the things a textile-a-holic does when you have a workshop like ours

I did start out wanting to talk about Fair Trade and Social Enterprise, 
we just had a short break in Hyderabad, any excuse to check out a new place.... the first draw card was our mate Lena was going to be the as part of the International Basic Income Conference. This was a think tank type event- working to lobby governments and concerned bodies on the benefits to people and hence their home country if governments work to ensure everyone gets a reasonable bite of the apple.
If people have a basic income assured, they will have better health, kids will go to school, families generally more stable. As a citizen there is more chance of them engaging in the community positively,, education, stability more chance of better job and paying taxes which helps a country progress.

No brainer really but poverty is on the increase and the gap between HAVE and HAVE NOT wider 
Praveen is a Delhi boy, India has a lot of poverty, he was ssssooooo shocked on our first visit to Paris to see street people, and then in Sydney as well. Understandable in India, maybe but in affluent countries WHY?

That got me onto thinking.... I remember when my friend Anita of Conserve India, a project to help reduce waste and create jobs for urban poor first heard the label social enterprise applied to her work. It was a new term, yes it did apply to her work although she started out simply trying to do the right thing and letting her conscience guide her.

Why are not all enterprises social enterprises, why are they not Fair Trade?

Why if I work in Australia as a teacher for example-  I am worth enough to have a house and car, feed my kids, electricity, running water, health care but if I worked here in India in a government school [and by and large they pay more than the millions of small private schools] my 'house' would be one large room, water might come for an hour once a day or I have to go to the pump for it, electricity may or may not run and is super expensive, car forget it,.... just a rough example.

In 2004 I heard about Barefoot College and I was onto Praveen, I want to go there and meet these people.
He asked me to explain what they were all about, then he said categorically NOTHING like that existed in India, it was only a story to swindle money from foreigners. He worked in travel and had seen lots of scams.
I was insistent, so we went to visit. He was just the driver and I was the giddy tourist. 
Well, did his eyes OPEN
he sat under the tree and had a cup of tea, asked the kitchen guy, how does it all work, where does he get a cut for bringing a client? and the guy explained to him what they do and how they work, really
When I came back, he was transformed. They look after people, they train the poor, they help people with advocacy. Wow it is true, it is real.
It was a turning point for him.
We were already working on the idea of tours..... we wanted it to be real. Meet people, meet good organizations, connect up truthfully.
It took a lot of work.... there are so many less than wonderful scams running [less now I think, as India is not so much downtrodden in poverty as it was. Still a long, long way to go but small in roads happening]

So from that day, that is what we wanted to offer our guests. We did not understand exactly what it was, not a lot mentioned about Fair Trade or Social Enterprise in those days ... but we have lived and learned and love what is does for people.

This is on our website 
We support Fair Trade and Self-Help organizations where we can and so the only ‘shops’ listed on our itinerary come under this category.
Don't worry there are also lots of other markets and bazaars we can visit too!
The same for our hotels- we try to find family run ventures rather than large chain groups that meet our standards of comfort and local character- some places are rather flash, some simple home-stays; all are the best locally for food and friendly service.

Home base is just outside Pushkar, where we pursue a Fair Trade
Textile Social Enterprise- take a look

This is a long time ago with one of our Vietnam Groups.
I am sure this is the day
"Helping the local economy"
spouted for the first time, one of the girls said it and it became a catch phrase of the group.
I know it struck a note with me
and many of that group have travelled with us many times....
some how that phrase has joined our travels and many people say it.... I don't think I bring it up every time.
we do make choices with where we take our guests
we try very hard to have person to person/artisan/maker/ co-operative type contacts and workshops.
We try and find family run hotels where possible, not big chains.
So as much of the money we spend as possible goes into local communities not siphoned out as profit for those far away

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Photo mining...

Still mining my stash of photos from years of travel.
Kind of got the bug, there are so many moments I remember and loved... so continuing to look for them and bring them out.
I had a picture from a different tour of the chairs but this is the moment when I realized I loved them- 2013, it was, or what often happens at them.
I am sure I have other pictures of different tours too, as I keep looking :)

These are my favourite chairs to sit and take a minute, look around and people watch. 

Have fun.
They are in the Alhambra, one of the many Moorish Delights of Andalusia and Morocco Tour. They invite you to sit down, soak up the magical atmosphere and let your hair down. Haha, each trip has left a smile at that location.
Interesting all the people visiting a place like the Alhambra leave their feelings behind in a way. In the Nazrid Palaces people wonder and wander and it invites you to, somewhere like Charles V Palace just outside, has none of the love of detail and design, was never finished and when you walk in you go "Oh what is this all about?" like I guess millions of others have. It feels empty as you walk in.
Sightseeing is not just about the eyes, it engages other senses as well.
The Gardens of the Generife and Courtyards of the Alhambra are full of the tinkling of fountains, aromas of the Gardens as well as a visual delight, and that aura of admiration of generations.
We are so lucky it is still here after its turbulent history and it is a pleasure to see the love and care being bestowed upon it in this age.
It is world Heritage and a privilege to experience it.

You realize I am peppering lots of links to our website, trying to build up its presence on the net. 
Crikies what a job!!
I do like the looking for images, though.