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

Tanvi Kant

Residency at Arts Reverie

week six

Posted by Tanvi Kant on 21st March 2008


A few things on my list - getting in touch with a jewellery designer, confirming hotel booking in Bhuj and thinking about what to focus on in the evening when I will talk to our friend the textile designer..

Karma Art Gallery

In the evening, catching the last 10 minutes of the however many weeks long show, we see an exhibition of bronze sculpture by K.S. Radhakrishnan titled ‘The Impudence of Musui’. I found it delightful, the movement and balance of the human-like forms. The space the tall, skinny figures occupied and the play on balance with a dance or acrobatic like movement. I also particularly liked the small scale pieces with dozens of figures holding hands or trying to stay upright as if a wind was trying to pull them off the surface of the cube. The smiling face of the male figure standing on his hand upside down was memorable.


I have a meeting late in the evening which runs close to midnight with our designer friend. I discuss my work and show samples made while I have been here as well as existing work. There are two options in the ways in which we could work together, I am hopeful, but also a bit weary.

Having always worked on my own I feel like I am the only one who could really understand where I want to take the work. I am quite clear on what I don't want but I'm also happy to consider new things, I am also very particular in a very personal way - this may need a tactfulness when dealing with another person.

Clear and consistent communication is key and also firm decision making. I will try my best. I think I may need to talk with people back home for thoughts too...I have always wanted to collaborate with designers or craftspeople here, but having actually discussed it seriously, I'm quite nervous.


I venture to the markets again, looking at local jewellery, buy some grapes for lunch and a cone of peanuts roasted with a pan full of hot charcoal on top. I should have taken a photograph, it was served in a newspaper cone, which I love!

Silver treasure cove

I spot tarnished silver items in a window, peek in and take of my flip flops to have a closer look. The man behind the counter is sitting and in serious conversation with another about money. I keep looking around and I'm quite pleased no-one pesters me and brings out 50 pieces for me to look at. It was quite difficult to get any attention actually and so I liked the shop even more. I finally get him to open a cupboard to see an articulated fish, I remember a friend here who was asking what they were for, but she couldn't understand the shopkeeper. I find out it is for the powder applied around the eyes or for perfume - attar, the Arabic fragrances I have read about before.

He then asks me to speak in my own language, when he asks me if I find it difficult to speak in Gujarati. I think he meant that as I didn't understand his explanations. He added that just because he is in Manek Chowk doesn't mean he can't speak other languages, but I said I can practice my Gujarati here so its nothing to do with him really. I do talk in English now and slipped up a few times, but I switched back quickly. I guess he can practice his English with me.

He is very knowledgeable and shows me a necklace he bought for 44, 000 INR. Real Basra pearls with what I assumed was rubies, a gold pendant whose back was also beautifully decorated with peacocks, the front set with emeralds, rubies and diamonds. It looked similar to my favourite piece of costume jewellery my mum had, which I now keep and look at from time to time.


I stay up quite late tonight, and its midnight so I email friends at home as it officially my birthday for me in India. I am unusually excited and don't sleep for long!

I dress in my new churidar for the day and tell the staff I want to light the divo today (lamp in the devasthan they have here is lovely, full of images and symbols of many beliefs). Fresh flowers are delivered to the house everyday, which include the garland which is placed around an image of Laxmima.

After breakfast, I do a little sketching and writing of ideas and Anne and myself decide to go out for ice-cream, look for some music (similar to what was playing in the disco rickshaw), books, clothes shopping, just a general girly day out...

We go to Bhandej, where there are the lovely clothes as well as my favourite - the homewares. Crossword is where we look for the music, I try my luck with an Arti CD, hoping it is the same as what the families near the pol here play in the mornings. After ice-cream and shakes, we go to the Himalaya Mall which has a dummy person climbing up and down a rope the whole height of the building. We go to the scary house, which was pretty hilarious. They - the exhibits under post mortem examination - were telling us 'post mortem' and then 'go left' and a lady in normal dress came out to give us directions, and telling me not to use my mobile which in fact was a camera - I was actually taking an audio recording. Anne's images were great as the flash shows the tacky fake blood, wigs hanging off the heads and silly costumes.

At home we get dressed up in sarees, and arrive fashionably late to the hotel for our meal, in a rickshaw. There were six of us, and I was a little shocked to receive so many presents. It was probably the most amount of gifts I've ever had! it was funny how I had only known everyone only a month and they all had chose books or their own artwork which I loved. I am very fussy, but its only because I know what I really like and other things don't do much for me. After the meal, we came back to have a drink that our friend bought for Anne, as he had a permit to purchase alcohol . It comes as a stamp on your passport. Kalamkari We visit a lovely family who paint line drawings with a fine bamboo stick on mainly cottons and sometimes silk. They make a solution of iron soaked in water, gor/jaggery and tamarind which is then boiled. We saw a selection of Sanjays' work, one of two sons and then sat and did some of our own painting. We really loved this and could have sat there all night doing this. The images were really detailed and depicted recurrent dieties - mainly female goddesses and figures such as angels/fairies, peacocks, parrots, what looked like kings and queens, elephants and horses. I definitely want to draw and paint of fabric or even paper. I am looking forward to my studio based time to pursue this. I can copy, but making my imagery would be better. I am have become increasingly interested in imagery used in drawing and painting I have here. On the lorries, rickshaws, walls, textiles, clothing, interiors and stone/marble or wood carvings. For me its the lotus, peacock, mango, elephants, ganesh, birds and sun. I also like the tortoise, fishes, goddesses, women and angel like figures Sanjaybhai drew.

Sleeper Coach

That evening I left for the journey on an A/C sleeper coach to Bhuj.  It left at 11 and arrived about 7 in the morning. It wasn't too bad as I was in and out of sleep, but it was freezing! The A/C was two vents which I couldn't even turn down let alone switch off. I then told the driver if he could turn mine down, but I didn't feel any difference and he then gave me a blanket. I was pleased to arrive in the nice hotel and ended up getting a deluxe twin room with a spacious balcony. The hotel served amazing mocktails, very refreshing to return to the comfort after the heat and traffic coming back from the bazaar.

The Kala Raksha

I get picked up in a jeep and taken to Sumrasar and spend the day there.  It is a place where there is a school for craftspeople and a commercial venture to secure income for many communities.  I met three students/graduates working with the crafts people on various projects.  One of which was a textile graduate from Sheffield and the other two post-grad students from NID.  It was a lovely space and my highlight was visiting a family nearby where I saw three generations of women.  Oh and the baby, which would be the fourth.  The daughter-in-law was embroidering Suf bharat for a scarf and the grandmother a patchwork or applique piece.  This is usually how it goes as the eyes can no longer do the detailed work involved in counting warp and weft to perform Suf stitches.  It was one of the most idyllic village homes I have seen and I felt very lucky to have spent even a little time with them. The little girl and her smiling face still very fresh in my memory.