Wednesday, November 28, 2012

how much can you pack into a week?

 This time last week I got to check out MY camel cart and along with visitors from Australia we went for a spin around the Camel Festival...still hassling Praveen for a baby camel. He is adimant the answer is no, which is good truthfully but I can't help myself ...I keep asking to see how long before he caves. You should be careful what you wish for- you just might get it!!
 and look how gorgeous they are...I would love a few down the back paddock.
 Then we were off to Ahmedabad- excited to get away and because I was thinking it would be a little break, arrived and went walking...and that was the end to relaxing, once we hit the conference it was all systems go!
 This is the Subramati river, last time I took notice it was all slums along the banks and washer people making a living, now it is being remodelled and looks quite European...where do the poor people live now? Gurjurat has one of the highest rates of growth in India which is good for those on the train, those with education etc. Every once in a while you notice a small article pointing out that the poor people fair worse than in other places as the government does not look at them- swept under the I do wonder where they all went in this wonderful re-invention of the river, a life's blood to many.

We treated ourselves to a few days at the House of MG- I think it is my favourite hotel is fabulous, ambienece wonderful
 Our verandah...
They have bought up the beautiful old building next soon there will be even more wonderful spaces to hang out in...
and then onto the confernce an initiative of the Austalian Indian Design Project - Sangam
so inspiring...and mind boggling- a lot to think about.
First though: Praveen came- quite nervously at first...he has not been to school so rocking up at University scared him, but he is dedicated to what we are doing, networking and learning more are important for us - so there he was. I am so proud of him.
His comment was- all the quick English was a bit of a headache for him to keep up with but it was worth it - good to see people of all levels working together from grassroots like us to contact with the highest reaches of governement
 A wide range of inspiring and passionate people- the gentleman furthest away Asif Shaikah an embroider from Ahmedabd- an exhibition of his work showed the finest and most equisite embroidery you could imagine- almost hard to belive a human hand can work so fine...he was celebtaing 20 years in his workshop, a thriving place and one small corner where the finest of Indian hand work is still alive.
Next is a women, I am sorry for my rudeness I did not get her name, she has worked for many years with the handloom industrylobbying for support and a better deal for handweavers... and then there is Irfan Bhai [Irfan Brother or as he is more formally known Dr Irfan Khatri a natural dye and blockprint master who has been recognized De Monford University for his expertise and tireless education of others in his field...something like 100 PhD sutudents have visited him over the years]. he was a good force to keep things real- it is the artisans and their conditions we need to look at first or this whole exercise will simply become something for museums- dead and dusty crafts.
 The National Institute of Design: Ahmedabad was our host- fabulous place, with a hands on approach to education.
Who else did we meet?
WOW! what an inspiring list, most important and relevant to us were people working with people like we do,
Medhavi Gandhi of Happy Hands in Delhi
Vandana Agrawal of Gramshree in Ahmedabad
Kala Raksha in Kutchh
The very passionate Ranwir of Shahaj in eastern Gurjurat
Bina Rao of Creative Bee...she offered the last words of the group discussions pointing out the URGENCY these things need to be addressed- we are loosing skilled artisans, world heritage treasures of experience held in their hands each and everyday....through lack of opportunity they are leaving home, travelling to cities and living in slums and building roads...what a waste
These are just a few of the people we met personally, some working with self help groups, some running social enterprise [fair trade business]- all inspiring and most have been at this a long inspiring they still have their sanity and their passion- we migth be just beginning but we can do it too.

 The treats just kept coming- this is work from one of the UTS students who visited us in July Maureen, when in Delhi she worked with our mate Sanju from Bihar at a 3 week workshop facilitated by Happy Hands and this is what she produced.
 Ashok Ladiwal of Vrindavan produced this equisite embroidery...he worked with an Australin Designer Michelle Jenks...can you see how it just floats on the fine net? it was showcased at the Sydney and the NY Fashion week- there the model wore a neutral coloured body suit not a neutral sheath like here...he had pictures from the Vogue spread it was in...and quietly whispered in Praveen's ear- did you see the model overseas she was naked??? here she had a dress- I explained the body suit and suggested they wanted to showcase the finess of his workmanship it seems to float on air. I don't think he was upset by the use of his work at all, it was just Praveen was the first person who had come along who might have known what was happeneing and he was comfortable to ask.

 Walter-G were part of the Jugal Bandi exhibition- we were admiring their work and bubbling with excitement because on our way home we were popping into to see our mate Hemant of Sakshi near Jaipur
 My boys the movie stars- Hemant and Praveen picking up a box of sweets as we were off to see Om-ji and Shankar and get our first small pieces of indigo dye done on our handlooms to be used in cool will they be? and carbom footprint? hand spum, handloom, indigo dyed...handstitched no electricity in production until they meet out machines to assemble...and all the lusciousness of indig colour [Ok just a little excited!!]
Om-ji was printing this beautiful Chanderi silk cotton sari...the white is discharge paste so when washed this will become a beautiful subtle white in the design....Chanderi weaves almost float on air...

 and look who we met along the way -Lauen and Genivive of Walter-G...just arrived to work on their next collection in indigo
what a truely inspiring and fortuitous week of meeting passionate people working with good heart...lucky, lucky us :)
May your week hold such pleasures

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