Spending two weeks in Rajasthan with Artist Designer Cardiff Met was an incredible, exciting and overwhelming experience!
Before you go to India people will try to describe it to you and yet it is impossible to truly understand until you are there in the middle of it all, standing on the side of the road – probably next to a cow!
Before we left we were given our project brief – to make an AR interactive artist’s book. It was great to have such a wide brief as it gave us the chance to really explore what we wanted to focus on from the trip.
The first week was spent in Jaipur exploring the cultural sites such as Amber Fort and the Galta Ji Monkey Temple, getting our bearings and adjusting to life in India. The busyness and intensity really isn’t something you can prepare for, especially if Europe is your only point of reference. India is mind-blowing – a complete sensory overload; loud and bright and colourful, cows in the road, tuk-tuks screeching everywhere, horns blaring constantly. We were lucky enough to do a Jaipur by night jeep ride and got to see the whole city lit up beautifully.
We also went on a leopard safari where we saw 3 leopards, lots of monkeys and a silver fox. Jaipur was beautiful and bustling with life, and after a week we said goodbye and headed south to the city of love, the city of lakes, Udaipur. With so much to process, the bus ride was welcome. We had seen so much in Jaipur that was already informing our artistic practice; incredibly impressive craftwork in rug weaving, blue pottery ceramics, block printing, paper making… our minds were buzzing!
Attending so many workshops and meeting makers from such a wildly different culture than ours, we were able to gain insights into our own practices that might never have been developed otherwise.
We had the opportunity to visit many local craftspeople, from ceramicists to wooden block carvers to miniature painters. It was an invaluable experience to witness the passion and commitment these people have to their practices; it isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. Personally, as artists, we were able to really explore what craft is and how our practices at home are akin to the practices of the people we met in India, an interesting learning curve for many of us.
Udaipur was less hectic and left time for us to explore independently and gain some more confidence navigating the bazaars. We spoke to tailors and some of us had clothes made (and some of us just asked for the scraps to work with later!), we bartered and bought gifts and dug around collecting things for our project.
On our third day in Udaipur our lecturer Ingrid introduced us to a man named Ashish who is opening a hostel; he invited us to look at the building and to make some artwork for him. The hostel building is one of the tallest in the city and the view from the top was incredible, we were all spellbound. We spent the following day sketching and painting in his garden.
Udaipur was an artist’s dream. Absolutely stunning landscape and architecture, incredibly kind and welcoming people, and we were lucky enough to have lots of free time to draw and take it all in.
Going on a learning trip to India is a priceless experience that can’t be had anywhere else, and for those of the group who hadn’t previously left Europe it was a chance to see a whole new side to our home planet.
Traveling with a broad project brief given to us before we left, we had the opportunity to really think about our interests through a different lens, highlighting for each of us the differences between home and Rajasthan. We have all gained a lifetime’s worth of experience in those two breath-taking weeks.