India has been on my ‘to visit’ list for as long as I can remember, so as you can imagine, when the opportunity arose to go to Rajasthan on a field trip as part of my Artist Designer: Maker course at Cardiff Met, I was pretty ecstatic.
The brief given to us – to create an artist book on our experience – really gave us the leeway to work in our own way. During the weeks leading up to the trip the course was extremely supportive, both in terms of work and personally. We visited the library’s artist book collection, took part in several insightful book-making workshops, listened to talks on other people’s experiences of India, attended tutorials on various bits of equipment we’d be taking (for example a 3D scanner) and had weekly catchups with the group so we’d have time to get to know each other and feel prepared.
After a long journey, we finally arrived at Jaipur where we were given a traditional Indian welcome. Our first day began at the Amber Fort wandering around the beautiful architecture, learning about the history and soaking up the sun and surroundings. After lunch with a few monkey visitors, we took a stroll down to the village, visiting a temple, a step well, and lastly the Anokhi museum of hand printing where we met some skilled craftsmen.
From there on, we were deep into the experience. On day 2 we were welcomed into the home of a family who make paper out of elephant dung. They taught us their process and gave us my favourite meal from the whole trip, a Rajasthan thali served on plates made of leaves. The day then continued with a visit to the blue pottery workshops of block printing and ceramics.
I could go on for pages rambling through everything we did, it was so rich in experiences, so I’ll have to summarize: day 3, 4 and 5 saw us through the rest of our time in Jaipur, there was an elephant sanctuary, a monkey temple, many historical and cultural buildings, tuk-tuks, markets, a modern art gallery, a jungle safari and much more.
We then had a day of travelling from the hustle and bustle of Rajasthan’s capital, the pink city, to the romantic lake city, Udaipur. This day was one of my favourites, seeing the landscape change into rural land and visiting a small village market and train station.
Our time in Udaipur was different – we had much more opportunity do our own thing now that we had gained some confidence. Our first day here began at the city palace, and oh my, never have I been somewhere so overwhelmingly beautiful. As a creative person, it was extremely inspiring to see somewhere where there such consideration has been given to every element and detail.
Over the next few days I made the most of the rest of my time, partaking in various craft workshops such as miniature painting and tie-dyeing, crashing a wedding parade, wandering the markets, visiting a ceramicists’ studio, a sunset boat ride, and eating many wonderful meals.
There is so much I will take away from my time in India. Not just in terms of my own personal outlook on the way we treat each other and our possessions, but also in the way in which I work and how I respond to environments and inspirations in visual and physical ways. I look forward to my next influential trip.
Looking for more like this? Read more about Cardiff Met students experiencing other cultures and countries while they study with us.