Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Artisans of Bhuj

I have just returned from working in India and managed to escape a bomb, earthquake and flood.  All this occurred in 2 days. Caught in the flood our car surfed across the street,narrowly missing stranded cars,cows and camels.  Naked street children were laughing  hysterically  as they leapt onto toot toots to hitch a ride or hurled their bodies into the raging muddy waters. So much was happening in the chaos it was too scary to look out the car window.  It seems daily, somewhere in India there is always a catastrophe.  All this and we are trying to make it to a meeting on time.  All part of the daily working experience,  gradually the panic leaves the body and calm takes over.

Part of this trip was to visit artisans in Bhuj (a desert town in Gujurat).  I had put in orders earlier in the year for an exquisite pure indigo tie dyed scarf range and some beautiful ajrakh fabrics.  The heat was to be believed but Bhuj was amazing.

Jabbar Khatri looked after us brilliantly.  His natural dyes are magical, not to mention his tiny weeny wonderous tie dye designs.

Jabbar took us out to the villages and to visit Dr. Ismail Khatri who is the best ajrakh printer in India. It was all a thrill.

The ajrakh will be made into men's shirts, kurta dresses and beach wraps.  Some of his prints are so fine they look like cobwebs.  All on handwoven cottons. They will all be selling at my Christmas show in the Shapiro gallery, Woollahra.

I also visited the exquisite compound of Shamji whose family has been weaving amazing woollen blankets,throws and shawls for generations.  Even a hand woven coat for their fridge.