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25-02-2016 by 
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Here are some memories of my trip to Art Ichol in February 2016.


 

The Residence at Art Ichol

After a long arduous train journey from Delhi to Maihar, Madhya Pradesh, we arrived at the beautiful Art Ichol residence that would be our home for the next 10 days. Had such an amazing welcome from the Art Ichol ladies, Ambica, who's vision has created a real creative hotspot in rural India, supported by the ever happy Tanya and Seher.

 

Lounging Sculpture

As well as being a creative space, I was afforded the chance to take inspiration from these sculptures and to relax, talk and share ideas with many interesting people. The main group at the residency were 7 international ceramicists there for a period of "Exploration, Experimentation and Examination". Was also joined by the amazing Srila Mookherjee a glass blower from Kolkata and Margaret Irwin West, a 92 year old woman from Ireland, who along with her grand daughter Maureen was on a journey through the memories of her youth.

 

The Temples at Khajuraho

After seeing the residence in Maihar and Art Ichol in Ichol village we were whisked off on bumpy roads to the mesmerising Khajuraho, a site of 22 temples that are stunning in their structure, detail and ambiance

 

Beautiful Trees in Madhya Pradesh

The trip was full of inspiring sights, none more so than the trees we saw everywhere we went. This one was at Khajuraho really captured by imagination. The Banyan tree (or Bargad tree to use the Hindi name) is synonymous with India and as they age they get more complex. Not sure why they're all painted though

 

empty tamas river bed

I had an exciting chance to see the Writers Retreat at Ichol which is romantically placed next to the Tamas River. The river is sadly empty after a dry period but this gave me the chance to explore the river bed and see something we aren't normally able to. Imagining the water flooding through was quite inspiring

 

Stepwell Entrance

I'm always intrigued by Indian stepwells, an ancient way of storing water, the ones in Delhi are really grand and cathedral-like. This one however was small and unassuming, with a small temple before one descended the steps to the well

 

View out of Stepwell

Even such a small stepwell has a real sense of grandeur, demonstrated by the view up at the skies.

 

Perfect Arternoon Filming

After being filmed for a video about Art Ichol we settled in a nearby field, the atmosphere nothing short of bucolic. It was a great place to unwind

 

Perfect Arternoon Filming

While the film team took some final shots, we relaxed and enjoyed the space joined by Ramdhani, our driver who was so quick with a smile.

 

Printing Workshop at Art Ichol

One of the great things about Art Ichol is that as well as offering a creative space, it is becoming a centre for the local communities, amply demonstrated by a printing workshop being run by Margaret and a group of school children. The excitement the kids felt was palpable.

 

Brick Builders

Trips out from the centre were always full of visual inspiration, none more so than these traditional brick makers who work all year round, preparing clay, making, bricks and firing them for several weeks at a time in the beautiful kilns. The brick makers are at risk of disappearing because the government is trying to ban the practice. This would be such a shame.

 

Animals Everywhere

I love how India is full of animals, including dogs, birds, goats, ponies and these cows being herded down the middle of the street!

 

Stopping Point at Ichol

Ichol is such a creative space showcasing contemporary art and sculpture, all built round this old structure which would have been used as a stopping point for travellers in times gone by.

 

Tree Sculpture

One of my favourite sculptures at Ichol was this metal tree sculpture which changed with the light during the day and night.

 

Firing in Process

As time moved on (so quickly) the tension mounted as the ceramicists and myself prepared to fire our work created during the residency. I couldn't resist a peak into the kiln where my work was fired - so much heat!

 

Charcoal Firing

A special charcoal fired kiln was created to allow several of the ceramicists to fire large pieces. Before the firing began we were led in a pooja by Ambica to bless the kiln and the firing.

 

Charcoal Firing

As the heat developed over two days the charcoal heated up, and some of the patterns made by the flames created were entrancing

 

Maihar Band

On the last day we were treated to a trip to the Maihar Band, a group of musicians who meet regularly to play beautiful traditional music. The instrument shown here is unique across the world as it's created from old gun barrels. The sound is intense and really shows how beauty can come out of conflict

 

Jabalpur

All too soon it was time to leave and head to Jabalpur Airport through stunning landscape, so many memories that will stay with me for a long time

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