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

Anne Schwegmann-Fielding

Residency at Arts Reverie

Week Six - Thinking, Writing, birthday and dance

Posted by Anne Schwegmann-Fielding on 17th March 2008

10/03/08 – 16/03/08

Tuesday 12/03/08



Tanvi’s birthday. We had a wonderful time eating ice cream, shopping and visiting “scary house” an Indian equivalent to a ghost train. This was more funny than scary – no ride just being led in the dark by young men in wigs directing us around and explaining what they were – in keeping with the whole – hand made experience of most things I have seen here, it was most entertaining. The evening was wonderful. Mancy our lovely cook loaned me a sari and with Tanvi in her beautiful new sparkly one we joined 4 others for a meal at le meridian restaurant.

Not sure if I have mentioned before but I have really grown to love the whailing from the mosque. Not sure if that is the right term but it is strangely comforting.


Wednesday 13/03/08

Matanipachedi Workshop


With the Indian hospitality I have come to love, we visited the home and workshop of Sanjaybhai Manubhai Chitara. He creates amazing drawings using iron and water on cloth and colours from various spices and vegetables. He was on one of the HAT projects at Harley a few years ago.

After a demonstration and a pleasing purchase, Tanvi and I got to have a go. This is a technique which varies slightly both in name and style across India. I have been looking at Matanipachedi, Mithilla painting and Kalam kari. All really detailed work with the quill. Whilst recuperating I have been working on some detailed pen and ink drawings of my spoons – inspired by the detail and decoration in these works.

The technique is really intricate. Using a sharpened quill from a stick of bamboo, the nib is dipped into a mix of iron and water and worked in upright position onto the cloth. It is like invisible ink as it takes a few seconds for the ink to show on the cloth. Outlines are drawn and pattern is worked in. I am hooked.

Barney and Jeremy (arts reverie management) arrived and we have time for a quick catch up before they leave for Bhuj in the early hours.


Friday    14/03/08

Calico Museum/Gandhi Ashram and Paper factory

A busy day taken around by Mohammed, the rickshaw driver – was good to see him as the last time I saw him was having all the tests at the hospital. We had breaks in between our visits of ice cream and lassi.

The morning tour of the Calico museum is quite different to the afternoon – more centred on textiles – beautiful work, a real range and some really ancient pieces colossal both in scale and in detail. My memory of the tour is shades of red in dull light and huge variety of technique. You don’t need to be a textile artist to appreciate the workmanship and time that must have gone into creating some of these rugs, fabrics and clothes. Met a woman there who is a dancer and performing on the Saturday night in Ahmedabad – finally I will get to see some classical dance.

A repeat visit to the paper factory allowed me to top up on more handmade paper for the spoon casts I have been experimenting with. And then onto Gandhi’s Ashram – where I am thrilled to discover that Gandhi too had appendicitis!


Finally – a successful visit to the wonderful art book centre. Discovered the joys of credit card and shipping in one go! More beautiful books for my collection

Think I may have over done it as in quite a bit of pain by the evening and decide to take it easy until sat eve as really want to go to the performance. Book my flight to Delhi for my rock garden trip next week (hoorah – am finally going) and watch the mistress of spices – a rather weaker Indian/American version of Chocolat, based on an Indian woman in America who uses spices to help people.


The weekend 15/16/03/08

Rest    Khatak dance   Step well

Definitely over did it as had quite a bit of pain through the night so decided to take it easy to make sure I was well enough for the evening performance.

The dance was wonderful – in a great rust coloured amphitheatre at the Daparna academy. Met a lovely couple prior to the performance, Preeti and Neeraj and got chatting about sustainable housing and straw bale building.

Shila Mehta, the dancer was in full outfit and danced Kathak, an Indian classical dance – full of stories and descriptions. The five musicians, all in white sat to the side. As she danced the musicians watched her intently – her stamping feet, her expressive hands. My eyes switched frequently between them, mesmerised by one or the other.

After the show, Preeti and Neeraj give me a lift back to the pol, have a quick tour and invite me for Sunday lunch and visit to the step well.

Go along to lunch at Preeti’s with Kate – a new arrival at arts reverie and daughter of Jeremy. We visit the ancient step well Adalaj Wav. Built 500 years ago by Queen Rudabai it is an octagonal well, five storeys deep with intricate stone carving. Easy to imagine a colourful scene of people coming here to bathe and collect water. The heat intensifies and we head back to Preeti’s for a true Indian lunch and glass of beer! Lively discussions about architecture, marriage, past lives, books and meditation. I will catch up with them at the end of my trip to see a performance about Ganesh – remover of obstacles and symbol of good luck. The first thing I bought on my arrival here was a brass Ganesh – and am feeling quite lucky!

Will spend the next week drawing and writing – in prep for my trip to Nek Chand’s Rock Garden on Thursday. I can’t wait.