Bramble Patch Exhibition

 

 

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Hope to see anyone visiting on the 11th- 12th April. Image 8

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Here are some photos from the Making a Toran Workshop held at the Bramble Patch yesterday. A good day – I just wish I lived closer.

In Down under Quilts (Australian magazine) this month there is a World of Quilts Booklet. Here is my work featured in the magazine

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Saturday 1st March

The next day we caught the plane to Mumbai. We had hoped to meet a collector of rural quilts but she was unable to see us.I was so disappointed, so we spent our time visiting the Prince of Wales museum, the Central station, Crawford market and the Gateway of India.

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I had very clear memories of being in this area when I visited in 1982

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We wandered through Dhobi Ghats where most of Mumbai’s washing is done. We were amazed that items don’t get lost. I have masses of photos.

Sunday 2nd March

We had breakfast in Leopold’s – it still has the bullet holes in the wall from the shooting there in 2008

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We visited the Hajji Ali, the mosque that is out to sea on a causeway.

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Small children were sitting in the sun begging. This was the first time we had really seen the more distressing side to India.

There are no textiles collections in Mumbai so we went shopping in Fabindia – I did buy myself some new clothes and it is good to see how they have taken inspiration from rural crafts in India to design and mass produce some very trendy and saleable items.

We finished our day with a lime and soda on a rooftop terrace overlooking the Gateway of India.

Monday 3rd March

The plane was delayed; we missed our connecting flight and ended up having to have an extra night in Istanbul!

Such a shame, for our trip to end in this way.

Thank you so much to the Quilters Guild for giving me the chance to learn so much. I have so much to think about, opportunities to follow up, skills and experiences to share, and 5000 photos to keep looking at to remind me of such a fabulous trip.

Thanks to all the lovely people we met along the way, most have so little but are so cheerful and content with life.

Finally thanks to Annie for coming with me, I could have probably done most of the traveling on my own but it was much more fun having someone else who is just as passionate about textiles as me.

We just want to go back!

Almost at the end of our trip

Friday 28th February

 

We rose at 5.45 for a departure to see the sunrise over the white desert

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and on to another part of the wedding festivities.

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This was a procession from one village to another by the women, children and bridge groom. We followed, not really certain what was happening.

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There was singing, throwing of coins and again it was a spectacular sight of brightly colored costumes. We had to pinch ourselves – we were so lucky.

 

I enjoyed being able to show my book to the people in the village. They loved seeing themselves in print.

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We drove on to a few more villages and one that was almost on the Pakistan border, a very poor village, no women around, but the men looked so stylish in their long tunics and brightly coloured scarves. We really felt like we were in Pakistan

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Teaching

Just had 2 lovely days teaching

Yesterday i was teaching at the Quilt Cabin in Hebden Bridge, some talented students, good company small class and a good place to teach.

Today I have had my usual Wednesday class at my studio. I was so impressed today with all the “homework” they have done! Just another nice day – lots of fun and some lovely students. Studio looks a bit of a mess – All my things from the show at Birmingham all over the place.

Tomorrow I am going to the Bramble Patch to deliver my work for the Easter Exhibition there. I shall be there on the 11th and the morning of the 12th April doing some stitching and felting. Please call in if you are in the area!

Thursday 27th February

 

Kala Raksha was our first stop. This is a grassroots social enterprise; it is dedicated to the preservation of traditional arts and has a museum. It works with hundreds of villages.

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We next made a couple of stops to villages. I was disappointed. They seemed only interested in selling us cheap, poor quality textiles. Why has the situation changed so much in the last 2 years? There seems to be more money to be made from tourism than stitching.

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Would we want people coming into our village just to look at us?

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Some of the textiles for sale in the villages were obviously ones bought in the market and probably originated from Iran, not even India, although we were assured that they had all been made in the village!

We were saddened that the newly bought textiles in the market seemed to have as much value as their pieces that had been in the family for generations.

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We then went to the busy festival at Drang where there were people dancing and most were dressed in traditional costume, mainly Rabari.

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Seeing all the men and women in their magnificent costumes I soon relaxed and took many photographs. We arranged to meet a previous guide at the festival and we had a good discussion with Jeetu about the situation of the textiles in the villages.

He asked me to return to the Kutch and make a video with him about the change in textiles in the villages.

Apprehensive about what the guy in the Hotel had arranged for us for our overnight stay, a remote village, we looked onto our round mud hut with 2 quilts laid out on the floor. This we beyond our expectations (although sleeping on the hard floor might not appeal to everyone).

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In the dark we could hear chatter and music, all we understood was the word wedding, I understood clearly that there was to be no photographs.

The next couple of hours were magical. It was a pre wedding party for the women and children of the very small village. They were all dressed in their best clothes. In the glow of the firelight the mirrors and sequins sparkled. Food was being prepared, the young girls made the chapattis, songs were sung by the older ladies.

I hope memories of this evening stay with me forever. We felt so privileged to be able to share these special moments and it was a far cry from the busy streets of the rest of India, and the hard sell of earlier in the day.

Many more pictures to come another day

 

 

 

One more day

At the NEC It was a pleasure to talk to many of you who are reading my Indian adventures. I am so pleased you are enjoying me sharing my experiences.

 

Wednesday 26th February

 

Next day we had an early start and a simple millet curry breakfast and arrived at the Khatris to start printing. It is far more difficult than it looks and we could sense that the men were not impressed with our results.

Lots of practice needed.

During the previous afternoon Sufiyan had been doing some clamped shibori work for a designer. Hanging on the line to dry it looked magnificent.

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A designer from Bangalore arrived and later a quirky Dutch couple arrived who purchased the drop cloths from the printing tables.

 

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A phone call from an important Indian Government group meant there was a quick tidy up, 2 jeep loads of older men arrived, many with large cameras and we made a hasty retreat.

I had learnt all that I needed to, armed with masses of examples and a list of what to practice we said a sad goodbye.

Sufiyan’s, drive, passion and personality made me realise why he is successful, but there were a few other things that make it what it is

Natural dyes

Block printing not screen-printing

Long tradition

Hot sun to dry the fabric

Lots of cheap labour

Experience

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Growing up knowing you will be a block printer

We were concerned when he said he was looking into buying his fabric from China and the contemporary experimental dyed fabric that they are trying was, in my view, not always successful, although I did like their “Jackson Pollock” fabric.

For the rest of the day we hired a rickshaw and went to a small village to see women stitching,

 

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to Bhujodi to see the weaving,

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collected our bags from Khamir and had a good look at the exhibition,

 

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returned to Bhuj via Mr. Wazir’s house. He is a quiet man and has been a collector of textiles for many years. He welcomes visitors to his home to view his textiles. Always a good visit.

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We made a quick phone call to confirm our booking with the guide for the next day. My plans were shattered. He had double booked us. I was cross and upset.

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Some quick thinking and after a few messages on face book, with no luck in finding a new guide, we booked into a small hotel in Bhuj, the helpful owner said there was no need for a guide. He planned a route for a driver and as an added bonus there was a Rabari festival in Drang.

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Exhibition at the NEC

I have finally some time to add photos, up date my blog etc so apologies for lots of entries.

It has been a hard but enjoyable few days at the NEC. One more day to go!

I have met lots of lovely people, and there is some fabulous work on show, although I haven’t had much time to look at it.

Lots of people coming to the show have loved seeing the Palestinian exhibition and especially the textile work that myself, Pat Archibald and Janette Purdie have made following our visit in 2013.

Here are some photos of my exhibition space, our joint space and the costumes brought over from Jerusalem by Yasser Barakat.

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The photos are not the best!

Another day

Tuesday 25th February

We immediately went to Khamir to stay. It is a rural craft centre where they had a block-printing exhibition on currently.

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After a curry breakfast we headed to Adjakphur to meet Sufiyan Kari, the son of Dr Ismil Khatri

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I wish I could transport you there.

Exquisite block printed fabrics hang on the washing lines.

It is hot, sunny and dusty.

The fire is smoking, there is a large old pot filled with water boiling away. Stones are spread all over the ground.

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Kids are playing with tools.

There is a trail of indigo dye from the Indigo Vat.

Wooden printing blocks are laid out drying in the sun.

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In the printing shed cotton fabric has been stretched out on pristine tables.

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Blocks are carefully cataloged in boxes and men are focused “in their own worlds”, and you can hear the regular thud as the blocks are tapped whilst printing.

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Sufiyan came to meet us

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Such a charming man, his English was good. I warmed to him immediately. Who wouldn’t! He said “You look younger than your photograph on the internet” Then he looked at us again

“You were in front of me on the plane from Kolkata – you were stitching”

We were off to a good start!

He is a 10th generation block printer, after the earthquake in 2001 they were forced to relocate to a purpose built location.

All the fabric is dyed using natural dyes and it can take up to 16 processes to achieve the desired appearance of the fabric, using a complex procedure using resist, iron, indigo etc.

He patiently explained it all to us.

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I tried to take careful notes but I was mesmerized by the skill of the block printers. The men have between 6 and 22 years of experience.

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We had lunch with the family, sitting cross-legged on the floor on a beautifully faded block printed tablecloth. It was a delicious meal.

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We had hoped to have a go in the afternoon but there was an order of fabric to be printed for a designer so all the tables were being used.

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Sufiyan obviously enjoys being a bit of a celebrity so when 3 young American girls in the fashion industry arrived he explained the process all over again.

We decided to go back to Bhuj to a demonstration of Shibori from his brother in law. Stitching marks are transferred on to the fabric, and the women stitch. Men then do the pulling of the threads and the dying. I especially liked the shibori fabric with printing over the top.

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We then made a visit to the Indian museum in Bhuj to see some old textiles before wandering the bazaar and buying yet more textiles and old quilts.

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