The last week of our trip was spent in Lucknow with the hospitable and generous Tandon family whom Denny has been working with for over 40 years. The family have a long history in the textile trade as merchants of the traditional Lucknow chikan. This is fine white on white embroidery which Denny Andrews has always sold in the form of beautiful kurtas and night dresses. Ramesh, who took Denny in, all those years ago, when she had heat stroke, became an invaluable friend and fountain of knowledge on Indian textiles. He took her all over India to seek out traditional textile production and they brought the fabrics back to Lucknow to be made into clothes. Raja, his son, now leads the quest for fabrics and the production and export process.
As decisions are made and tailors cut samples in the living room, Ramesh’s wife, Preeti and Raja’s wife, Pinky look after us all and cook wonderful meals.
Ramesh and the tailor
ikat and the tailor
Samples being sewn and this years ikat
A visit to the Lanes is always an essential part of our visit. A series of narrow medieval streets are crammed full of life and cubby holes containing purveyors of everything from ribbon to silver, perfume to eyes of the Gods tempt you in. It is untouched by tourism and a slice of Indian life at it’s most vibrant.
I have been curious about India’s diverse and ancient culture and religions for a while and love the shrines found in nearly every shop and home. The Tandons, whose family shrine can be seen at the top of this post, kindly sent me home with a Ganesh which has been dressed with some decorations from the Lanes as a fond reminder of their hospitality and India.
I’ve just returned from another Indian journey searching for cloth for Denny Andrews and myself in India. A trip filled with the new and old and surprises on the way Arriving in Delhi after a night flight we spent a couple of days in the hurly burley, travelling around in tuck tucks through streets filled with noise, smells and crowds.
Firstly visiting the regional Government shops including the newly reopened Khadi emporium which is a must for all visitors. It sells everything from handycrafts, clothes, soap, food stuffs and all at fixed prices. This means you are assured a fair price and no haggling for those who are averse to this. I was on the look out for khadi silk, khadi being the hand spun and hand woven textiles and a legacy of Gandhi. There were coloured Dupion silks and the raw Matka silk though none of the lighter weights I was looking for. Then on to the highly recommended Craft Museum where there are constantly changing exhibits as well as a very interesting permanent display,shop, a very good restaurant. We were able to see a tribal art exhibition and for those who have a vision of the intricate and ornate and familiar Indian crafts would be amazed by the vast and varied tribal imagery from the paintings from Andhra Pradesh which resemble Australian aboriginal paintings in their dotted painting style to the dung grounds with rice paste images from Maheshwar.
Then a 23 hour train journey to Hyderabad.
Revisiting Siripuram the ikat village in Andra Pradesh where Denny Andrews has been buying ikat for many years. Wonderful hospitality and fabrics in a beautiful and traditional village. I have visited this village several times and seen various changes. From the pit hand looms to more power looms and an apparent reduction in weaving. Bedspreads are still the main production here and dress fabric which Denny has always loved for her dresses and kaftans is deminishing. The weavers are getting older as their children move away and seek out work in the cities
gift to the Gods
resisting warp threads
dyed warp threads
ikat warps ready for warping up
Hand loom weaver in a pit loom
ikat fabric for Denny
Then on to a village which weaves silk ikat. We arrive at twilight and are seduced by the glowing colours.
What a good week. The exhibition in Stanford in the Vale has been really successful. I’ve met lots of people who have shown interest in my work and the workshops. I came home from the show yesterday to find a copy of the Western Daily Press on the doorstep (thanks to Denny) In the Colour supplement, is a double page article about Denny and my connections with India, textiles and natural dyes, with pictures including one on the cover. Wow! You can read it here
Next Saturday 17th May 10.30 – 4.30 there will be a Summer Fair here in the Stable Yard in Coleshill where I will have work on show and my studio will be open. Denny will be selling her clothes, Sallie and Jim Ead will have wonderful vintage textiles for sale and there will be Jewellery, pottery and bread and preserves on sale. The weather forecast is good and so a lovely day is on the cards.
My first workshop is the following weekend and is full and others are beginning to fill up. The garden is looking great. I’m looking forward to some warm still weather next week to continue some indigo work and I’m feeling content. I am also grateful to my friends and hubby for supporting me in my endeavours and fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.