After two fabulous shows at Christmas and New Year I packed up my kit bag full of many new designs and escaped to India for a heavenly few weeks. My first stop was the desert town of Bhuj to see my wonderfully talented friends and artisans Jabbar, Sufiyan and Shamji.
Sufiyan and his uncle - block printers extraordinnaire
It’s always a thrill to work out new designs but there are also problems to solve, specially if you work with natural dyes and shibori.
New natural dye block printed silk scarves
One of the highlights was seeing Jabbar’s latest collection of scarves and shawls which he had just exhibited at the V & A India Exhibition in London.
Shamji spinning on his sublime spinning wheel
Hand stitched embroidery in production
From Bhuj I flew to Mumbai to meet Greg, my business partner and soul mate, and Hannah, a multi talented friend and interior stylist. We stayed at the superb little boutique hotel called Abode. Stunning decor, traveller friendly and in the part of town I adore called Colaba. Dinners and cocktails at Indigo, shopping at Bungalow 8 and Phillips Antiques plus cruising the art galleries... immediately created a chilled out mode for the rest of the journey.
Even the trees welcomed us
Jaipur next for more work, mixed with the never to be missed literary festival. Held in the exotic grounds of the Diggi Palace, sessions are held on the lawns under block printed and appliqué tents. A great cafe to discuss the programmes and the superb Full Circle Book shop. Great for people spotting, Stephen Fry and his husband were an interesting pair, not to mention the Indian bloggers.
Diggi Palace entrance to the literary festival
The golden ballroom where William Dalrymple interviewed the brilliant photographer Steve McCurry
An adorable Indian Blogger who took endless photos of us Ozzie girls.
We went to a riveting session - with Armistead Maupin,Colum Toibin and an Indian writer/ poet R.Raj Rao discussing "coming out"(still illegal in India), also a very courageous Indian film director called Karan Johar interviewed about his life and being gay in the Indian film industry. All the gay foreign writers and their husbands were put up in the same hotel. A bit like a Somerset Maugham faulty towers as they bumped into each other in the corridors. The festival director William Dalrymple is always a thrill as he is such an enjoyable interviewer with a very catching raucous laugh.
We stayed at the sublime 47Jobner Bagh run by the entertaining sauve Shiva, his lovely wife (who makes the best fresh orange juice in town) and gorgeous daughter Megha who runs the show. Superb breakfasts and yummy dinners where you meet some very amusing guests.
Life at Jobner Bagh with Hannah and the Walter G girls.
I spent days scrounging around many vintage textile haunts trying to discover old embroideries to satisfy my passion for creating delicate,vintage cushion collections. And a trip to my rogue block printer in Bagru, who frequently makes me want to tear my hair out, even though I get very inspired while working with him.
New range of indigo block printed cushions, available now on the website
Vintage fabric - currently being made into a cushion range - available soon.
The balmy nights in Jaipur usually start with a cocktail or 2 at The Palladio Bar, which increases into wild dancing to boogie the night away.
We then Spice Jetted off to Kolkata for a few days to work with weavers and kantha stitchers. This time staying at the crazy Tolly Golf Club, a ragged remnant of the Raj days. A great outdoor bar with lazy fans to sip gin and tonics amidst the screeching wild jackals as they roam the golf course at night.
Vintage baby hand stitched kantha throws, now available on the website
Vintage kantha dowry pieces ....cushions and throws available soon.
My lips are sealed about the work in Kolkata except all totally thrilling. The next adventure was a 2 1/2 hour flight and 3 hour nightmare boat ride to the Andaman Islands, an attempt to chill for a few days in our very own kookie little paradise right on the edge of the jungle with our own private beach. What more could a girl want. Chilling is a bit of an art form these days. We had no newspapers,computers or wi fi. A phone call possible standing in the surf.
Hannah and I shlepping our luggage along the port
At last sheer bliss....
Our kooky little jungle paradise
The riveting locals chewing the fat
Our hand picked porters wading out to collect our luggage
Special delivery - my new sea blues handwoven, hand stitched striped/check throw
Drying in the island breeze, my latest handwoven charcoal /red striped, hand stitched throw
Basking in indigo glory, my new moon tablecloth
Local fisherman preparing his net to catch our evening meal
Sunset on Driftwood,my silk/wool indigo stitched throw ...couldn't be happier
Overcome with relaxing, our next stop was 15 hours, 2 planes and 3 car rides later we arrived in Delhi for more work,work,work and only a little bit of play. Staying at the very chic Scarlette - highlight - the home made bread and jams for breakfast, too good.
Visited Fumie and Yuki in their atelier, 2 heavenly Japanese girls with a label called Calico. They live half the year in Delhi and half in Japan where they also have a shop. We cruised the latest club/restaurant life with them and ate in a private rooftop conservatory. All quite eccentric and hilarious. I worked with the shibori girls,block printer and sewer, spending endless hours in the Delhi traffic where I zen out to retain my sanity.
My new block print designs about to go into production,very exciting
I managed to squeeze in a glorious walk round old Delhi in the alleyways of Chandi Chawk, discovering the braid and bead section and stumbled across a couple of old forgotten havelis still standing centuries later in their exquisite ornate, hand painted distressed grandeur..
…and just around the corner my senses stood on end petrified, I had reached the spice market. Another joy.
And finishing up with a delicious fresh vegetable juice from a street vendor
( Photos by Greg Stitt, Hannah Brady, Sally Campbell)