Inspired by India

March 19, 2010

Thought it time to be brave and show a few of the experiments I have been doing while here in Ahmedabad. As usual, I have used text as a starting point, mostly found in the sunday flea market under Ellis Bridge. They are by no means completed works but I have been happily experimenting with different shapes and combinations, and once I get back will try bring all thes samples together somehow.

Unfinished circle, made from a Gurarati-Hindi dictionary

Have been using beads and bindis quite a bit, especially in drawings. they are everywhere here, as is the circle shape.


I like the way the little gold beads seem to hold the text down. Sadly, many of the books I bought are so old and heat-baked that the paper breaks easily. Has been quite a laborious process. The newer books all seem to be printed on fairly standard greyish paper and are not nearly so interesting.

Playing with bindis and an old storybook


Have found it more frustrating than I thought it would be not being able to read the text around me. Have to just go with a sense of it. It has been fun to copy the twirly whirly writing. I feel like a pre-school child pretending the write. The children in the pol have been very sweet trying to teach me the order of the strokes. It comes out in my drawings as squiggles, dashes and dots.

Drawing games

The central part religion plays in everyday life here is also unavoidable. I tried weaving together some sandskrit and gujarati sacred text. Not sure what I will do with it yet. Makes a kind of cloth. Amazing how strong it is, though takes hours to make.

Text weaving

Text weave sample

The patterns and the way the light shines through the weave reminds me very much of the woven mats and houses of Bangladesh. Also in Bangladesh, I spent many hours looking at the Kantha fabrics, made up of hundreds of simple, tiny, running stitches; almost like drawing or writing in a dotted line. Some of the patterns they make are incredibly complex but I am drawn to the simple ones. Have been trying, clumsily, to try replicating the kantha effect in paper ‘stitches’.

Detail from 'stitching' in various languages

Also attempting other types of stitches, like the counted stitches of the Rabari women, or the satin stitches on silk emboidered shawls I saw in the calico museum. There is a long way to go to get them smooth, and I am still not sure about using colour. There is so much colour here it is almost too much for me, and in my mind the colour comes from the words. Will see what happens when I get home and have more space to play.

Counting stitch experiment

Bangla leaves

Pattern is everywhere. It connects so well with ideas I work with anyway; patterns and structures in language/the way we think, process, formulate ideas. It is all so tied up with the everyday here; really rich resource.

From a Jain book on religious teachings, with gold beads

Detail, still very rough

Hindi and Gujarati grill patterns

The only advantage of the extreme heat here (43 degree predicted all week!) is that I have taken cover in a quiet cool room and sit like some mad woman cutting paper and drawing. The early mornings are cool enough to explore and the local book sellers know me; in fact the sunday market book traders now see me coming and pile in front books they think I may like. Took awhile to convince them I did not need copies of Dickens or Shakespeare. Last week I was delighted to find a massive ancient  volume in old Hindi on passing judgement within Hindu law. The crackling old pages just ooze history and tales of hardship and glory. Shame to cut it up, but hey, hasn’t been looked at in years out in the baking sun and dust of the market. Will try give it a new life.


3 Responses to “Inspired by India”

  1. Alice Says:

    Thank you for giving me glimpse of the inspiration of your time away and the work that is oozing out! Alice x

  2. Meenakshi Verma Says:

    good work but what is the idea of using text? Do you want to represent India (Gujarat) through some stories or randomly the text is? i mean is there any story or text is not relatedto each other?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: