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The HAT Project 2006/07 is supporting 20 exchange fellowships between England, South Asia and Australia

Jeremy Theophilus

a numb brain

Posted by Jeremy Theophilus on 10th April 2007

Back now for just over a week: the brain numb with memories and brimful of sights and sounds, despite the superficial familiarity of India after three visits.

The one big thing for me has been the need, and indeed the facility, to look at what we do in the UK through different eyes. Its a real struggle to shift the mindset from the comfort of weasel words and artspeak to that of a less sophisticated (in the worst sense of that word), more direct use of a common language. I can clearly recall the feeling of discomfort in using words that suddenly become foreign and misted with other meanings whilst talking to the floor during cHAT Week. And, it has to be said, irrelevant......

This has not been a Damascene conversion, more the result of a lengthy period of deep immersion in short bursts balanced by longer periods of reflection and analysis. The issue now, as Meera said, is to move on from fine words and start delivering through action. We have that opportunity through the final two residencies for Dayalal and Ramesh, where HAT can pull together the cHAT words through a revised structure for each of their residencies that has been much more carefully planned with each host.

I am fascinated by the way in which not just images, not just thoughts, but even words have been challenged by this intensive fortnight. As project managers, we have committed ourselves to continuing the relationship with India and South Asia through our involvement with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, and this inflects everything we do with a greater sense of an 'on-shore' perspective.

It has been a real privilege to meet with all the HAT artists and partners in one extraordinary place: finally, the sense of cohesion and community that we constantly write about so optimistically.... And of course everyone is quite right to remind us that this is not an end, but the middle of a journey that still has some way to go, and for which we have to find a way to maintain each participant's energy and commitment to the programme.

My limited number of photographs taken at Sanskriti focus on the extraordinary (to me) nature of autumn in India: its getting hotter and the leaves fall, it seems to me, carefully onto the bare earth around each tree. not just leaves, blossom too, which becomes the material for amazing decoration/celebration in those bowls set around the Sanskriti gardens. Trying to understand a season that is familiar yet completely upside down seems to sum up much of my recent experience.