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

Nick Barberton

Residency at JamFactory

The walls were covered with the blood.....

Posted by Nick Barbeton on 19th April 2007

Hi, I left Adelaide on the early bus for the airport. Flew to Sydney, Darwin and Mumbai. Booked into the worst hotel in the world. The walls were covered with the blood stained remains of 50 mosquitoes. There was no way to get rid of the hungry ones so I erected my net, ignored the cold shower in the filthy bathroom and crept into bed where I was kept awake by Mosquitoes, slapping on my neighbours walls, the traffic and dog fights. They woke me at 4.20 instead of the requested 5 and the taxi dropped me at the domestic airport. India Air would not accept my receipt so I had to buy another ticket. The plane left at 8 instead of 7 and the driver waiting for me in Delhi was waiting for 3 hours. A good start to India.

Sansktiti was a haven of peace in a suburb of Delhi. A gated enclosure. Syann and Gina were there. Their hotel in Delhi was also the worst in the world. All these people that I knew or almost knew appeared and an intensive conference started. It soon became apparent that there were two types of Craftsmen. First world craftsmen who were searching their souls to find new ways to express themselves through their work and third world craftsmen who were trying to find new markets for their work. Although I was in the first category, my heart was in the second camp. At discussion time I moved into brown skin camp. In between conference we went to a potters village where I found that showing subjects the screen of my camera was a sensational hit and I got dragged through houses to photograph parents, children, potters working etc. We went to a craft market. A cleaned up paid entrance tourist version of the frantic street markets we had experienced elsewhere and a craft museum with makers from the provinces selling their wares. Most of the travelling was done with several taxis and us whizzing down the manic overcrowded streets of Delhi. We had a magnificent Dance performance of a classical dance one evening. All of a sudden the conference was over and these bunch of strangers were our friends and we were exchanging email addresses.

The next morning we went to the airport to fly to Daramsala so we could walk in the Himalayas and visit Buddhist temples. We arrived in Srinagar in Kashmir and were ushered through the guards and officials in their sandbagged offices by the cousin of the travel agent. We felt a bit like John Simpson. They have to take desperate measures to get the tourists upon which they depend, back into their area. We were taken through the city to a houseboat on a lake. No mosquitoes they promised us, only midges. They were right. Ramiz looked after us diligently, they took us to the market and the mosques. They cooked for us and left piles of fruit in the room. The view from the Houseboat of the glassy lake was exquisite. We were taken up trekking above the snow line along the still closed road to Leh. We got tired easily at that altitude. That evening we were ‘treated’ to a traditional Kashmiri feast. Boss man Rafiq organised a business friend and his family to visit and had chef cook up a feast. Six types of goat and rice. The visitor and especially his eldest daughter a Dentistry student were interesting. The younger children lacked the fluency in English. We were not up to eating lots of goat. Fortunately no alcohol was involved so the evening did not drag on too long. We were very tired after the trek in the mountains. The next day was a laid back affair. We were taken out on the lake in a boat by Shakeel who had taken us up the mountain the day before. We negotiated with vendors and photographed scenery and eagles. The final morning had nothing planned. It had warmed up and we sat on the roof after packing until the final manic rush through the streets of Srinagar dealing with a cash point that was running out of money and the airport security, before flying back to Delhi through the magnificent Himalayas.

The hotel in Delhi was reasonable even though we were in the cellar. I got up early to fly to Mumbai Syann and Gina could get up later. From Mumbai I was upgraded to Club class. I could get used to this, drinking a glass of Champagne while the peasants found their seats and stacked their luggage. Some good food, better wine (from Barossa Valley) and a film and good radio and the 9 hours were over and I was breathing the cool soft air of England again.

One week left!

Posted by Nick Barbeton on 15th March 2007

Hi, I have just one week left here in Adelaide. My mind is thinking ahead to India, but I must keep on track. The exhibition opens on the 21st. Product must be at the gallery on the 19th. The Workshop is buzzing, six associates and some of their friends and partners are helping. I was not involved with the Forestry project and am well on track. I am carving, and do not need to listen to the machinery and therefore work early in the morning and write this after supper when the crowd are moving into top gear.

It is funny how ones mind shifts its viewpoint in space and time. Three weeks ago I was coming out of a matinee during the film festival, blinking in the bright sunlight and heat of the street at the summertime world around me, thinking ‘I love this town’. Now I am buying my food carefully so that I have an empty fridge in a weeks time, thinking ‘only one more Hindley Street weekend with all the noisy drunks leaving the clubs and strip joints to endure’. I have been here at the right time for me. The 40 degrees of my first night is a more reasonable 27 or so now. I have had the film festival, Womadelaide and some of the Fringe. The people have invited me to everything going. Wince if you had a HAT visitor and you didn’t ‘cos you were too old, too young, not rich enough etc. We English are appalling at inviting strangers home.

I love Australia and Australians.

Three weeks to go

Posted by Nick Barbeton on 4th March 2007


It is Sunday night, I have three weeks to go. I have an exhibition opening on the 21st of March and I get on the plane for Delhi early on the 23rd.

I am very happy with my stool design. I keep on looking over my shoulder for the realisation of what I should have done. I have completed three of the six and they are holding up to expectations.

They are made from Silky Oak (not an oak at all) and the legs are from Red Gum. They surprised me. I was being like a student and sketching away at the possibilities within the constraints of the brief. Out it came. Unlike anything that I have drawn before. They are coming together well. I should get the other three glued up tomorrow and finish them on Tuesday.

We have had a film festival here in Adelaide. This has been great. I am by myself. I don’t wish to impose upon other people too much, so I can pop off to see some really great movies that wouldn’t otherwise come my way. Last Sunday I saw ‘Meokgo and the Stick fighter’, a Beautiful story filmed in Lesotho. Followed by ‘Daratt’ a story set in Chad. About a young man who goes off to kill the murderer of his father and ends up with him being adopted by him.

Monday and I am off to see ‘Opera Jawa’ Two Hours of the spectacular reinterpretation of the traditional Ramayana story. That evening I was back again to see ‘Zidane’ . Possibly the best footballer in the world with 11 cameras focussed on him for a match. A brave experiment that in my opinion did not work. When he looks left and makes a comment, One expects to see who it is directed at. One doesn’t. An isolated view of one member of a team.

Thursday I saw ‘The Girl who leapt through time’ a delightful anime about a Tomboy growing up.

Friday afternoon was Australia day. ‘ Crocodile Dreaming’ about two half brothers having to shelve their mutual distrust to complete their tribal responsibilities. This was followed by ‘Call me Mum’ , a very dark collection of soliloquy’s about a young man being taken back by his foster mother to see his natural mother.

Yesterday evening I went crab fishing at Grange pier with Lou, Erin, Toby and their partners. Fantastic to get away from Adelaide and the Jam Factory for the evening.
Today I went up to Port Adelaide to the Sunday market at the Fisherman’s Wharf. I bought two pairs of callipers for the Workshop.

Brisbane, en-route to Adelaide

Posted by Nick Barbeton on 17th February 2007

Hi, Another letter, I am being beaten by time so I had better cover more ground this time. We spent an hour or two in Brisbane airport, before flying on to Adelaide. Very impressive, the sub tropical coast with all the waterways and marinas. I wished we could have planned in seeing the Asia –Pacific triennale while we were there. The woodwork group were off to Kangaroo Island, so we rented a car and set off south. Missed the second ferry so had to waste the afternoon and catch the 6pm. one. We got to Vivonne bay at dusk. Tom found us space in the dorm. The next day the party rushed off to see the sea lions, the remarkable rocks and the fur seal colony. We had Gareth and Dave in the back, practising the Australian art of humorous banter. The following day the students Rhode Island and Jam Factory made sculptures from found objects. In the evening, we walked round and had statements and crits. There was some impressive work there. On the third day we got up early for a swim, cleared up and returned to Australia. We drove the long way back through Hahndorf (an old German settler town in Aspic) and the vineyards. Monday evening we went to Stephen’s Currie evening and met a lot of the Jam Factory. Wednesday we flew to Ayres Rock via Alice Springs, checked in at our air conditioned mobile at the campsite and booked a visit to Uluru for sunset. Lay down to wait for the evening. 40 degree days are not worth the effort. We were dropped for a walk at dusk, picked up an hour later and taken to the sunset spot where a hundred vehicles and their occupants wait for the moment to go Click, Aah. The next morning We were picked up at 5 and taken to see dawn over Kata Tjuta and then went for the Walk of the winds. A marked trail through the rocks in the company of Christian from Paris. We nearly missed our lift back ‘cos we were 10 minutes late. Spent the midday in and out of the pool. Skipped the evening outing and walked round the resort instead. Saw sunrise at Uluru and caught the plane to Sydney. Went to the back packers and were shocked to find that they were full. Ditto the Youth Hostel, so we were directed to the accommodation beaureau, where we phoned up til we found space at the George. A flight of stairs in red light district where we almost expected to be evicted after the first hour. We rode the monorail in a circle to acclimatise and found an Oriental Market and we then had an excellent and reasonable meal. The next morning we checked out but put our big suitcase into storage while we toured Sydney. It is a fantastic waterside with ferries and buskers and art exhibitions and bridges. Speedboat taxis with toothy grins bouncing around and botanical gardens where one can watch the parrots or flying foxes or just chill out under a tree. We snuck into the Opera house but were soon evicted. After 5 we contacted Glynis and caught the bus to her house. Had supper with her and Marcus. The next day we caught the Manley Ferry. Syann and Glynis went for a swim while I protected our clothes from the underdressed locals. Ate at another Japanese restaurant and back with Glynis. The next day we rented a car and set off for Wagga Wagga. Got to Gareon and Trish in the evening where Christian turned up, we had a Barbie and talked and drank till the early hours. The next day we went round the farm, then the Art Gallery in town, then Gareon’s factory. In the evening the neighbour turned up and they discussed the drought. Drier supper and the next morning we were back on the road. A thousand kilometres and 38 degrees ahead of us. There was a reserve where we crossed the mighty Murrey with roadsigns warning us not to run over Koalas so we went for a walk and Syann found one. We got into Adelaide at dusk and we ate at the Thai café and went to bed. Returned the car, bought food, communicated with the locals and this morning Syann returned to the UK and I went to the workshop to crit the post K. I. projects. New Zealand

Posted by Nick Barbeton on 17th February 2007

Hi, A couple of weeks down the line. We went to New Zealand. Got met at the airport by Francis and Lisa and taken to Claires House where we joined the van Alphen clan getting to know the Edward clan prior to Claire and Neil’s Wedding in a Gracious country home the next day. The day after the wedding we were driven up Arthurs Pass where we walked up to some magnificent waterfalls. We collected our motorbike rode off through the boring flat roads of Christchurch. Things got better as we approached the mountains, stopping at the beautiful blue lake Tekapo. We turned up to the village of Mt Cook with the magnificent mountain increasing in dominance as we proceed up the valley. The sun is deadly and I burn on a walk after 5pm. The YHA dormitory is busy and the self cook food choice poor. We go on a Kayak trip to the face of a glacier. Lean tall Jason took us and a young couple from Oxford up the hill along the track and into the double seater Kayaks, aptly named divorce boats. We paddle to the glacier face, walk over the rocks covering the ice and get the Geology, Geography and History lesson that goes with the deal. We retire to lunch at the café while Jason picks up the next batch. In the late afternoon we take the bike along a gravel track to Tasman Glacier. OO-ER. Battle up the climb to see the grubby glacier melting into its moraine. The next day we are off on our longest day. Down to lake Hawea and through the Mt Aspiring National Park and the Haast pass to the Haast village where we are booked into the Hostel. We go down to the beach in the rain, marvel at the dead trees all over the beach and get back before we get too wet. The next day is raining and we ride through the rain forest admiring the trees and roadkill. We stop at Fox Glacier and make a soggy mess on the café floor with our shoes upside down outside. No incentive to sightsee, so we squelch back onto the bike and carry on to Hokitika, where we can change, borrow an umbrella and survey the Jade galleries and museum. The next morning and we set off, negotiating the terrifying single track bridge between the narrow gauge railway track. The rain clears as we cross over to the east side and cut through Arthurs pass and on to Christchurch. There is a serious head on collision ahead and the road is blocked. We make friends with New Zealanders and British Motorcyclists as the Helicopters ferry the damaged away. Our time has slipped away and we talk to the Police and are the first through the cordon. Make it to the rental with half an hour to spare. Waste the Sunday afternoon in Christchurch watching the busker convention and back to the nice airport hotel and Australia.

Landed in Mumbai Airport

Posted by Nick Barbeton on 17th February 2007

Hi, We landed in Mumbai airport and acclimatised to the bustle and the hustlers while clearing customs, finding money and a Taxi. One and a half hours of the worst traffic and aggressive driving that we have ever experienced and we were at the hotel and enjoying the dark and Spartan room. We found a good local café and ventured further afield each time we went out. Colaba is tourist land with more than its fair share of people to whom we were the crop to be harvested. We took the ferry to Elephanta ran the gauntlet of stallholders while we climbed the 120 steps up to the caves, carved out of rock with the story of Shiva. Coped with the monkeys, dogs and hustlers. Back in the city we looked at temples, visited galleries with very impressive contemporary art. Taxies seem to be the best way to the sights further afield. A couple of hours walking through vegetable, poultry and paper markets left us stressed and exhausted. Zan and Scott knocked us up on the last morning on their way to Goa. Singapore is the antithesis of Mumbai. Clean and organised. Even the Chain gang in the Airport has a stainless chain. We went on a couple of guided tours of the city. 6am. to 11pm. is a long time to pull through in an air conditioned shopping centre. Adelaide is spacious and very hot. The 40 degrees of the first day hit us hard. Air conditioning is welcome in the apartment. We pop into shops while walking around town to recover. We took a tram down to the beach one evening and blundered into a preview screening of ‘Dreamgirls’ at the Arthouse cinema next door. The Jam Factory is based on the same lines as the Kilkenny Design Workshops. Very impressive.

I am browsing books on Australia

Posted by Nick Barbeton on 7th October 2006

It is two days until I go to London to take part in the Origin craft fair. I am finishing off new work, checking old work, looking at my display and trying to do the graphics for a flyer with software that knows that it is a lot smarter than I am. I am browsing books on Australia, delving for the relevance of many ethnic tribes and many local woods and what they might mean to me.


Nick Barberton presents his artist's talk during cHAT week at Sanskriti, Delhi, India. March 2007 (note: the beginning of this video is missing due to a recording error)

Click on image to open QuickTime movie