2005 - Prasad Family Tour, Cultural Connection Through Ceramics
Photos still to be added....
Text in (italics) was added at the time of transcribing from the original. This is not an exhaustive record of the project but written when inclined to do so. I have used the initials of some individuals and organizations to protect their identity.
This project was first discussed in January 2004 when my family and I were visiting New Delhi. Giri Raj Prasad asked,” what can we do again?” and I formulated a proposed programme. In principal the project consisted of 4 parts. 2 workshops, one where remote aboriginal artists came to an aboriginal venue in Geelong to work with the Prasads, the other at Karingallery were artists from Karingallery and the wider community worked with the Prasads; a residency at a contemporary ceramic studio, Qdos Lorne; an exhibition of the Prasads work and work from the workshops at Karingallery and an exhibition in New Delhi of contemporary Victorian ceramics and work from the workshops.
Monday 23rd February 04
First pangs of excited energy today after the initial first 2 difficult (anticipated) phone calls. Graeme Wilkie was positive about the potters being at his studio and Carol Robertson (Director of the Australia –India Council AIC) was enthusiastic about a cross cultural Gondwanaland exchange as she thought the council would look favourably on a project that included aboriginal participation. Now I am excited.
Two reservations, it will be difficult for W (an aboriginal corporation JJF was working with) and JJF (a person who works in indigenous arts and community development. I had asked her to coordinate the indigenous component of the project as that is where her expertise lies and I didn’t have the time/energy to manage all the project) to fulfil on commitments made and Shyam will be slow in responding to requests etc. (Shyam is the English speaker in the Prasad family and had agreed to be the liaison person.) Will now send him my first SMS to test the technology that has failed so far.
Thursday 18th March 04
A crisis of confidence last night. Is Shyam trying to avoid me, have they gone off the idea? A letter sent one month ago with questions needing to be answered, questions such as, do you in principle agree with the ‘programme’? Shyam are you committed and have the time to be mediator? What do you think of the exhibition in Delhi? After SMS several times yesterday to see if the fax has been fixed and no response I rang to see if phone was in range, Shyam was in a meeting, I was to ring in one hour, 9.45 pm, no-one answering studio phone and mobile switched off, my paranoia is set in motion. I send another SMS “when is a good time to ring?” This morning I read a response, “sorry in meeting ring now” The time difference is difficult, so communication remains a problem. I still think the fax will be the answer. Developments at W, JJF doesn’t think there is enough generosity there to negotiate the project. In principle JJF is interested in the project but not if it is “only about money”. Could be funds from Red Cross for the indigenous component. – I am beginning to feel better already. I have to take on board a hectic New Delhi life and a seemly cultural habitual lack of response to mail. I think a telephone call is essential to set up a communications structure. I will try ringing again tonight.( I have tried to avoid phone calls, as this is at my expense and it is always difficult to have a short phone call.)
Friday 19th March 04
So I did get to speak with Shyam and we had a connected call. He was at an exhibition but could speak undisturbed and it was good to be reassured, yes they were still interested to come and yes he can be mediator. The fax machine will be fixed although still the time difference is an issue as he has to turn it on. He is about to get an internet connection and he will send through a fax number that is a friend’s and always on, it didn’t come through today…… He has been asking his father to sit down and answer my letters. So I am back on board and now I have the word I will ‘swing’ into action’
Sunday 21st March 04
SMS from Shyam “fax is working” try to send several times, no luck, will email be the way. The fax will go in the post.( I have since found out the problem was probably at this end as it is very hard to get out of Australia to India, and, you get charged every time you try, even if not successful, but was reimbursed by Telstra for these costs.)
Sunday 11th April 04
Finally given up on the fax after several attempts. Try now SMSs- have asked for another communication solution. Hopefully Shyam is getting his email ‘system’ up.
After three attempts finally emailed a discussion paper to JJF on her role. She responded positively, My response was ‘ happiness’.
Friday 16th April 04
Lorne: The Prasad project is launched and receiving energy. Meeting Zoe Snyder this morning and her enthusiasm motivates me. I had organised a meeting with her to discuss having the exhibition at Karingallery and left with having also organised for Karingallery to host one of the workshops. She and JJF will work together to get the Geelong component happening. I am excited about the possibility of bringing the Prasads to one of my favourite places, Lorne, the power of the moving water and the pristine beach is wonderful. Qdos Gallery is a surreal creative environment/sculpture park, in the forest with ‘water feature’ I think it is the right place for the Prasads, it is quite and no hype, and the almond and lemon cake is fantastic.
Wednesday 28th April 04
Spent time with JJF two weekends ago in full discussion on her projects and no time on Prasad Tour 05, which was my intention, save to say she has met with VR of N (she was then not working anymore with W but was negotiating work with another Aboriginal corporation). Seems a likely place to have the workshops. A subsequent phone call where I asked her to set up a meeting and she cautioned me against haste as” V may not deal with it at this moment” frustrated me slightly and I made some comment that came across as pushy, she rang the next morning concerned that I was using her to get to N, we did have a lengthy discussion of understanding, since my concern is ‘will she stand by any commitment she makes?’ as JJF doesn’t have a history of sustained commitment if it doesn’t suit her.
Have not heard form the Prasads after two letters posted, last one over two weeks ago.
Sunday 2nd May 04
Another telephone call with JJF and a period of anxiety over the call. I have just recalled and talked through this anxiety. She finds the terrier in me tiresome and I find the anxiety created too much. I have to trust all will be o.k. and get over wanting everyone to feel comfortable.
Saturday 8th May 04
Lorne: spent a few hours with JJF yesterday, exhausting, and I don’t think we got much further than previous phone calls. I will meet V in August. I was to meet with Graeme Wilkie however he wasn’t there as he was at a friend’s funeral in Melbourne but would be back later, could I hang around? So, I had time to hang out in the studio by myself which was great – reconfirmed my idea that it is the right place for the Prasads and myself. Finally when he returned Graeme made it hard for me, I had to convince him it was a valuable exercise for him to have the Prasads at his studio, he wanted to know what the outcomes would be, I had to say, “I don’t know” but I believed it would be a positive outcome, in principle he finally agreed.
Saturday 22nd May 04
I finally made contact with the Prasads via email, and that was after several attempts. A response from Shyam yesterday morning saying he had received the ‘series’ e-mail and would discuss it with the family… (I had been waiting for their approval for the proposed programme and prices for fares, visas insurance) Never mind the fact that I had planned to write the proposal to AIC yesterday. And as it turned out I didn’t get to it until nearly 3pm, now have the budget to complete, so it will now be sent Monday another five to midnight effort. Now I will go to Mulan (East Kimberley. W.A to coordinate a painting project) and leave the Prasad Project behind for 8 weeks. My concern at this stage is they could want to make changes to the project, and of course that is what consultation is about, but there is the appropriate time for consultation and it is not after a proposal for funding is submitted. However I have a positive feeling about it all.
Friday 3rd September 04
Many developments – the way I am feeling tonight I will readily accept the project falling over, but then, I am sure there would be great disappointment. While we were in Mulan Shyam got internet connection and so now email is working well. Too tired to continue tonight and there is lovely soothing rain to sleep by.( Mulan is in the desert and so I had missed the southern winter rains) I will be revived and back to it by Sunday. I have spent some time reading/looking at this journal, it is a good time for reflection. At the beginning of this journal are sketches I made on our trip to New Delhi/Rajasthan in January /February 2004.
Tuesday 7th September 04
It is a pity I was too tired to get down some details on 3.0.04 as in the last few days there have been many shifts, and it is raining again. The ‘bottom lines’ are JJF has now decided she is too busy to work with N on this project – there has been much anger between the two of us, basically my feeling is she has not been committed to this project but has not been straight with me – she said ‘trust me’ and I did and nothing happened. I am feeling let down and now wondering how to make it work for the Mulan painters to get to work with the potters. I sensed something was wrong with Zoe and JJF. I am thinking of contacting Robbie at IKE( During the Potters Tour 2003 we did a workshop at the Institute of Koorie Education, Deakin IKE, it was probably the most successful of the workshops of the tour, the students and potters seemed to have a particular connection. I had thought it would be better to have the workshop in a community space so a wider group of participants could attend, not just IKE students as would be the case if held at the Institute). Hopefully a clear direction will become apparent for that part of the project.
Had word today that Delhi Blue Pottery Trust, DBPT is interested in being involved with the exhibition in New Delhi so will now pursue funding/partnering options. (Delhi Blue Pottery Trust had hosted an exhibition I visited in New Delhi in January 2004, I was very impressed with the look of the exhibition and catalogue and the enthusiasm of the visitors made me think they could ‘enjoy’ and exhibition of Australian ceramics.)
And Qdos is going ahead, received costs for accommodation. $85 per night for 12 nights, I am wondering about some ‘contra’ deal, swap for pots or something. (Graeme had said he was building some ‘huts’, what he built was some beautifully constructed ‘Japanese inspired’ small units)
The significant development is postponing the submission date until December; I need to put in the best submission possible. (The AIC had rejected the proposal on the grounds that there was no institutional backing from the Indian side, I had not put in the exhibition details as they fell into the next financial year, which was to have the backing of DBPT. However other components of the project were also not fully resolved.)
Wednesday 8th September 04
Great to be back working in my studio today without the anxiety of having to face putting together a compromised submission. Raining again. Began a document for requests for ‘partnerships’. Sounds like a good project to me! The Victorian Ceramic Group VCG will be my first stop. Still no clarity on the indigenous side, possibly N still interested but no JJF involvement/intervention – still sitting on it.
Email from JJF she asks” can we work on something in the future?”
Sunday 9th September 04
An email from JJF, unbelievably suggesting a meeting to discuss the joint ownership of the project. It bought my blood temperature up a notch or two. (One of her accusations was that I wanted to ‘control’ the project. My perception was that I had ‘given’ over the indigenous component of the project to her).
Tuesday 14th September 04
Phone call with JJF, feeling much more positive and some anxieties have gone. (I wonder what was the content of the conversation?)
Sunday 3rd October 04
Have just had a breakthrough with the indigenous component, rang Robbie at IKE a few nights ago, left a message, for some days, ‘anxious’ why hasn’t she rang back?, I am so…… She has just rang and have had a most positive conversation, why hadn’t I contacted her before?
also had spoken with JJF earlier, still no movement at N.
Monday 11th October 04
Meeting with VCG committee and they are positive about being involved with New Delhi exhibition, had lots of contributing suggestions.
Spent hours on the phone yesterday, again with Robbie and JJF. It is interesting the different demeanour, one seeing lots of possibilities the other negative. Seems like two workshop, Karingal and IKE. And just to illustrate anything can happen. Rang Mark at Mulan, (Mark is the administrator at Mulan).With a hesitant query, is there any money available to get some artists here, as it turns out ATSIC surplus is ‘up for grabs’. He asked how much, I suggest $2000 he said ” I’ll ask for $10,000, there is also CDEP funding available.( All too good to be true, when it came down to it there was no money and no energy from the community to make it happen.)
Friday 29th October 04
Having to re-do the timing for the ‘programme’ rang Graeme Wilkie this morning to see if after Easter will work for him instead of before, that’s O.K.-
Back to Geelong 3 weeks ago, had positive constructive meetings with Zoe and Robbie, no show from JJF on both occasions, have not been in contact with her since but will as soon as I hear from Robbie, and now to SMS Shyam about dates.
Later: after several SMS to Shyam established to ‘ring’ have just had a long chat, and dates are fine, so it does all come together.
Thursday 11th November 04
One week before I plan to send in the submission, I need 10 letters of support/commitment, I have had contact from some but not received one document, it makes me anxious.
Friday 26th November 04
All documents are now in !!!! and a parcel couried from Anuradha Ravindranath (Director of Gallery Twentyfive and trustee of Delhi Blue Pottery Trust) arrived this morning, it is thrilling to look through the contents, and she has sent the book on Sardar Gucharan Singh- I had wanted that book.
Email from JJF two night ago with accusations of the middleclass nature of the project and how her women’s project in Hastal was hijacked – I wasted time dwelling on the matter.( There is a long history, she originally had made contact a group of women potters that I eventually worked wit, it is from this contact that this project has grown, but developed in the direction I have personally felt comfortable with which isn’t the same as hers, she has had no further contact with this community that I know of See Journal 2002.) She rang last night for me to respond, there was no confrontation.
Still no word from Shyam on airfares but I have just realized I can get them from the internet. ( After frustration on the internet I was told by an airline it is not possible to book flights out of India on the internet hence get prices.)
Surprised/shocked at the cost of the exhibition in New Delhi $27,000, $11000 for catalogue which would not be necessary.( And that’s not the cost of getting the work there.) Hard to justify such expenses as $2000 for wine and cheese for the opening.
Sunday 28th November 04
!0 p.m. have just finished the application, and still no figures from Shyam, so, did an estimation for the airfares based on last time. The application seemed definitely easier than last time especially the budget.
Monday 13th December 04
AIC meeting today, I did not hear anything from them. At this point I am ambivalent about the outcome but I do smile a little when thinking about the project going ahead, and then I think of the challenges getting it all happening. Tomorrow if it has been successful I am sure I will hear. I will now consult the oracle.
Wednesday 15th December 04
Left a message at AIC ‘I take from not hearing from you the submission was not successful? Please confirm.’ Have just had a call from Carol “don’t be so pessimistic”!!!! The AIC has granted $5000- (Enough to get the Prasads to Australia and no more.) I was very excited despite my reservations I couldn’t really believe it wouldn’t happen – would I then have had to post the jumpers?( I had bought Angoori Devi an Australian woollen cardigan and had been knitting Giri Raj a vest form natural locally spun wool. )
Sunday 23rd January 05
This is a poor record of the proceedings, but from this seat all seems to be going ‘smoothly’ (it was an illusion.) AIC payment process is underway, a little close to the bone. Visa application letters for the Prasads has been sent and their freight is on the way to Mumbai, to be here first week of March according to Shyam, he has become more committed about getting into action.
Saturday 12th February 05
Have been too busy to keep updating this journal, in brief Shyam is yet to get a passport, on second thoughts I will leave this to another time do it justice.
Sunday 13th February 05
Sunday afternoon, I now have the time and space for some recounting.
JJF and I met late December. I had rang her to see if she wanted a coffee.
She had continued to write disparaging emails. Over coffee it became apparent she still had ‘ownership’ of the women’s potter project. She said she had learnt much from this experience. I told her I had learnt I could not work with her.
AIC payment was due into my account on the 2.2.05, it did not happen, on 9.2.05 I decided the money had to be sent to India so I mustered my own ( a little short but hopefully they will get a better exchange rate and as they are now flying Malaysian Airlines the fare will be cheaper) Is the AIC money now in my account?
The passport episode with Shyam. ‘Long ago’ I asked if everyone had a passport, I had been given a positive response; about a month ago I get a request from Shyam to send a letter of invitation to Australia so he can get a passport!!!! I baulked at $103 Fed Ex courier but sent it Australia Post $10 guaranteed 2 days to India then at the mercy of the local postal service, That letter has not arrived 2.2.05 I sent another document via United Parcel Service $73 from Melbourne, guaranteed by 5.2.05- still it has not been delivered. Tried to deliver but incomplete address’, despite having a phone number to contact if there were any problems. In my naivety I did think their residential address would be sufficient, but not for the UPS delivery boys, should have sent it to Shyam’s studio address in South Delhi. He has three weeks to get a passport and visa.
During the week I received an SMS stating Angoori Devi would not be coming as Bhuvnesh’s wife is due to deliver a baby ( when we were in India Bhuvnesh was not interested in anymore children, this put a lot of pressure on Shyam, unmarried, as there are no boys on that side of the family, Bhuvnesh as two daughters, I hope it is a boy) I emailed ‘understanding’ but in the light of a nine month pregnancy it obviously wasn’t new news. Then yesterday on receiving itinerary from the travel agent Ravi, I see Bhuvnesh is staying 2 weeks. In the light of the baby once again understandable, but I did respond by stating it is not appropriate for me to find out this way. I also stated “I hope you have no more surprises for me? Later on reading the itineraries I see they are now coming Malaysian Airlines and arriving evening of the 10th March and Shyam and Giri Raj not leaving until 20th of April, all in all a good arrangement but they are here longer than originally planned. The big disappointment is Bhuvnesh not being here for the residency but if his will is not there, no point in his being there, so now all that needs to fall into place is the passport business.
Thursday 17th February 05
The couried letter arrived on the 14th February, nine days after the stated arrival time, and the AIC money was in the account on the 15th. SMS from Shyam saying communication misunderstandings and Bhuvnesh will be here for the whole tour. Today I SMS back “Is Angoori Devi staying two weeks?” SMS back “she is coming for whole tour. I SMS back “ Feel free to do as is comfortable for all” There is no point someone coming if they would rather be at home despite earlier commitments. SMS from Shyam “The decision has been made”
Sunday 20th February 05
Emailed Graeme Wilkie a few nights ago stating we do not have the money for accommodation, would he accept some pots/a musical evening in return for some accommodation. He emails tonight stating accommodation will now be $225 a night and the Prasads should do the musical evening anyway. He also asked what I hope to get out of it. Are my answers insufficient when I say”‘access to a studio with contemporary facilities and there are no predetermined outcomes”
Tuesday 22nd February 05
All freight documents arrived today by courier. SMS from Shyam, the ‘invitation’ letter for visas according to Ravi is not adequate. This means they are yet to get visas!!!! Two weeks until departure.
Wednesday 23rd February 05
Stomach anxiety – it takes 5 working days to get a visa so I have worked out Shyam has four days to get his passport – it seems now my ‘invitation’ letter will be adequate. Now when I recall the last tour, there was the same last minute ‘arrangements’. Is this the Indian way? Had the first call from someone interested in exhibiting in New Delhi.
Thursday 24th February 05
While waiting to send faxes to go through I have time to write in this journal, in fact I could start a novel. Fortunately email and SMS have made things much easier.
Email from Ravi telling me all is in hand and not to stress!!!! Shyam’s passport should be issued by the weekend.
Sunday 13th March 05
The eve of the first workshop and Angoori Devi and Giri Raj sleep next door, I am too tired to do a catch up that would cover the intervening time, so, hopefully tomorrow night will allow that.
Monday 14th March 05
Feeling much more optimistic this morning. Established an understanding of a few Hindi words that we would need during the day, like brick, manure etc to add to the few I already know. Angoori Devi and Giri Raj seem happy enough this morning; we are off to a good start.
Evening: The optimism of this morning was not misplaced. It was a great day. Got to IKE and asked Matt in the office “where was Robbie?” Hands to mouth he said’ I was meant to pick her up” I though he was joking and even when he said he wasn’t joking I didn’t believe him.( Robbie was coordinating the workshops and she lives in Melbourne, we are now waiting for her the other side of Geelong). He rang her, “I’m sorry I’m sorry”, I now knew he wasn’t joking. She was there ¾ hour later, after our preceding experiences we were not fazed with a small inconvenience and got into a slow start. Three students we had met in 2003 where there and they were most welcoming and contributed to a very positive atmosphere. Throwing demos and then we started building the kiln. Went down to the lake to collect/check out the mud and Giri Raj approved it as workable. We started to fill a few buckets; I was floored when Giri Raj said we would need 30 buckets. So we got the crew into gear and got heaps of mud into buckets and garbage bins. The site was levelled and building begun. Most students participated at some stage. The kiln was built to eight courses. One comment overheard between two students while they were looking at Giri Raj, “it’s a type of dress”,(he always wears traditional dress, a dhoti.)
Now recounting to 9.3.05. Day before they were due to leave. In the morning Ravi emailed ‘Shyam would be getting visa that day’ and I had a day of optimism. About 9p.m. I had an SMS from Shyam, he and Bhuvnesh’s visa applications had been rejected. Disbelief. SMS back, ‘please ring’. A family friend spoke to me; Shyam was too upset to talk to me. What to do?
It seemed Giri Raj and Angoori where understandably very apprehensive about still coming; I had to reassure him they would be fine, and reassure myself at the same. The visas were knocked back on the grounds of insufficient evidence of professional background and for Shyam ’lack of motivation to return to India’. Many questions and anxiety for myself. Would Giri Raj and Angoori get on the plane? Spent Thursday until 2p.m. rewriting and faxing documents to ensure they get visas on a second application. AIC have been very helpful. Combined at this time was the anticipation of picking the 18 boxes of pots. Thursday it was conclusive we wouldn’t be picking them up on Friday. What to do with Giri Raj and Angoori for 2 days before the distraction of packing up and getting to Geelong.
We have developed ways of communicating and basic functioning is fine.
So, tomorrow I am thinking they will know about the visas. It is hard to be optimistic but I should have learnt my lesson by now. (things seems to work out as they should) That’s it for tonight. I will sleep well.
Tuesday 17th March 05
The anticipated good sleep was not entirely fulfilled, sleeping light and noticing any noise from next door.
The morning at Karingal, 25 school children had a go on the wheel. Karingal clients watched and did some handbuilding, I was not so much connected, and now the afternoon off… The freight will be available tomorrow. It is organized to be delivered to Zoe’s for Thursday.
Wednesday 16th March 05
A more exciting morning at Karingal. 3 other women potters and Karingal crew, (and the tightness of having the Christian school there was absent). More variety in the throwing, participants throwing, mudka making (beating out of a thrown vessel to make a round bottom water storage pot), and turning and burnishing pieces from yesterday.
The afternoon, began building the barti/ kiln mixed mud in a concrete mixer from soil that was nearby. Finished to floor level. ‘The boys’ from Karingal had fun.
This night what I really want to write about is Angoori Devi. She is very impressive. Confident in herself but not overt. Perceptive in language and light hearted, strong but not dominating and graceful. This evening we had our first intimate conversation, age, makeup. I am enjoying her company. (IT is to be remembered we did not have a common language but seemed to be able to communicate with a minimum of words and my Hindi dictionary.)
Thursday 17th March 05
A long morning at Karingal in fact to 2pm. Not many bharti, kiln builders. Looked forward to a rest before the load of pots arrived. Went to Zoe’s at 6.15. The truck arrived at 6.30.Overwhelmed by the amount. Luckily Zoe’s gardener was available with his trolley. The truck driver was cranky and we were ‘over burdened’ but got the 18 boxes into the church. Started to unpack. Too many pots to consider selling them all before the19th April. ( I was having moments of crankiness as I had several times said .”do not bring too many pots’ and had outlined some numbers, although the freight was at their expense the issue was the pots would be my responsibility after the Prasads had left). Unpacked half the boxes. Ingrid helped, worker at Karingal and she then came over for dinner, subji vegetable curry and roti.
Friday 18th March 05
SMS from Shyam when I turned on the phone this morning ‘leaving tonight’ even though they still didn’t have the visas. And then tonight at 6.30 got the call, confirmation. Surprisingly now, the euphoria of the long awaited, the anxiously anticipated, has not lasted. Having nice evening ‘conversation’ with Giri Raj and Angoori. (Once again I was reminded of how little formal language is needed to communicate effectively if you have the time) So today, another physical day building the bharti. Once again, where were the participants? Rendered the bricks in mud and poo. A final rendering of mud and sawdust on Monday.
Tuesday 22nd March 05
A brief update over nashte’ breakfast So we did pick up Shyam and Bruvnesh (BK) Saturday evening. We had spent Saturday unpacking pots and setting up the gallery and pricing, a productive but exhaustive time. Didn’t get time to sit in the bath before heading to the airport. As we were pulling into the airport phone call from Shyam to say they were out, consequently we got back to Tallarook earlier that expected and everyone was up to welcome us. It was wonderful to have everyone together.
Sunday a catch up, another busy day. Downloaded images from IKE and Karingal and ‘tried’ to get an early night. Up at 6.15a.m. to get on the road by 7.30, and we managed it. A good trip through coldest mist and finally sunshine in Geelong. A ‘relaxed’ start to the workshop at IKE . BK and Shyam fitted into the programme easily and some ‘big’ pots made. Giri Raj used the stone wheel. The students feeling more comfortable about their approach to the pots and decoration. Megan and Paul designing some original imagery, the others more predictable. The render has flaked off the bharti again. Watched the DVD (Taken by Shyam of activity at their home workshop). The students oooded and arhed over the post fired painted ‘flashpots’ (The ones I least like.)
Had a relaxing evening, talking, eating, and walking, back at Corio Street. (where we were based for the Geelong workshops, A small two roomed ‘bungalow’, once my studio, at the back of our house. Kitchen with a mezzazine where I slept and next room one double bed, Giri Raj and Angoori, and two small mezzazines where BK and Shyam sleep, and next door a bathroom.)
Today had a hectic morning at Karingal. 5 local potters were also there, involved and interested as well as some local ‘press’. Did one load of render mix in the concrete mixer.
Reconnaissance trip to Lorne, I was disappointed with the lack of oos and arhs for my favourite stretch of road. And then to Qdos ( the gallery studio were with much difficulty I had organised a two week residency) Shyam was ‘suitably’ impressed at Qdos BK interested but Angoori and Giri Raj were reserved. A short walk on the beach, $4.00 worth of hot chips and then home. We now relax and laugh.
Wednesday 23th March 05
Morning, I have just said in my mind “nashte me”- breakfast for me. Am I getting it by osmosis? The perfumes wafting from the room next door, from BK and Shyam are atmospheric. I seem to be restored after each hectic day by the next morning, the evening walk is great.
Thursday 24th March 05
Karingal kiln finished. Karingal clients ‘the boys’ had a great time on the wheel. Jason really performed.
The afternoon in Melbourne. Walked Ackland Street. I had mentioned a secondhand dealer/cashconverter but it had closed. Giri Raj twisted his hands in the air, “what are we here for?” Shyam, click click, and BK wandering off. Myself, betwich and between, how to make all happy? Peter, (my partner) and I stayed in Melbourne for a friends birthday party and Jenny( with whom we share the property) took the Prasads back to Tallarook.
Friday 25th March 05 Good Friday
Peter and I got back to Tallarook late morning. Went into my studio to bisque fire pots Giri Raj had made on their first weekend here. Shyam, click, click in studio. Had a relaxing time sitting on the back lawn looking at Pottery In Australia back editions waiting for the kiln to reach a temperature where we could turn it on full.
Saturday 26th March 05
Quick trip to Seymour to glaze and shop for evening musical event. Back by 2.30. Mum and Dad arrive, a surprise visit, probably one I could have done without. I stressed over preparations for the evening. First guest arrived at 5.30. By all accounts the evening was a great success, but the question, how many pots were sold, not many, 3 of the same, the cut/jarli, the ones I thought were not Australian ‘taste’
Will made a beautiful opening welcome (my son who at the time was 12) The music was great, the Prasads first, then dinner and then other musicians joined in, but my disappointment, no dancing. A diverse crowd.
Sunday 27th March 05
Relaxing morning although I was stressed with the crowd ( as we live in a relatively isolated place many people stayed over). Great cross culture lunch, pakoras and nori rolls. Drive to Pulpit Rock, (a landform overlooking our property). Shyam and I stop in at a neighbours as their son has made a documentary in New Delhi and is about to return there. (they did not work out to meet in New Delhi).
A calm quiet evening the 7 of us.
Monday 28th March 05
Left Tallarook 3pm to get to Lorne last night. Crisis in this residency business, the most anticipated, on my part, and the most difficult to organise, part of the project I will discuss later as it is time to get to Qdos.
Tuesday 29th March 05
Springwood. BK is singing in the bathroom this morning is this a good sign? He has been withdrawn and not interested in being here. Over Easter he must have discussed with Peter his desire to return home. We have had big discussions as to the value of the residency. Giri Raj, Angoori and BK don’t see the value. Shyam was able to see it from my cultural perspective and has had lengthy discussions with the others over the commitment to be here. Basically, if isn’t work or a family commitment 1 day ‘off’ is enough. Time spent idly i.e. 3 days over Easter has made them edgy for home. But, we are all here and Shyam has done a sensitive job in the discussions which I appreciate greatly.
So yesterday at Qdos as can be expected with ‘a beginning’ uncertainty and a lack of direction but when the clay was moving the atmosphere became more positive. Graeme was here and there but supportive and introduced several visiting potters. By the end of the morning he was making suggestions as to some forms he could work on.( BK to throw and he would alter).
Shyam and I set up 7 pots in the gallery ( they looked fantastic juxtaposed with large Utopia indigenous painting, a lot of pinks and red earth colours) . Graeme suggested some more would work well so Shyam and I headed to Geelong. I was hanging out for some non-veg food. Had dinner at some friends of mine. Vegetable curry and rice, I forced myself to eat.
Wednesday 30th March 05
I am optimistic for the day, blue sky and warming up.
Later. It has been a productive positive day. The gallery was closed so Graeme spent the day in the studio. He manipulated some of the closed forms BK had made and was happy to talk and demonstrated axial glaze testing. BK much happier tonight.
At the supermarket BK bought a $23.00 bottle of wine, thinking it was $3.99, that was the ‘saving’. Took it back and bought a Queen Adelaide, a few ‘short’ glasses were poured tonight.
Angoori has quite a sense of humour and I am sure I am not party to all of it but here are some to date.
When driving in Melbourne “there are no signs in Hindi”. On discussing Munga, (our dog), she doesn’t understand Hindi, on sighting 2 people in a Porsche “one seat for the driver one for the ticket collector”.
Today she sat at the wheel and made many little pots. (traditionally women do not use the wheel I have been given and have read several reasons for this, from the spiritual to the sexist and out of concern for the heavy work it can be, this one I doubt) She is feeling like my mother (although our age is similar)
Thursday 31st March 05
Morning, just hanging out the family washing, sari’s and dhoti, life is full of simple delights.
Later, have just been to see Bride and Prejudice at the Lorne Cinema, 8 patrons in total. It was a lot of fun, full of romance, colour and action.
Pretty cool day at the studio, quickly set up the pots this morning, the others went on with the making and mostly finishing. Angoori once again spent a lot of time on the wheel, very patiently working. Another delicious lunch in the rotunda. (Angoori and I would go back to our accommodation and prepare lunch each day, subji and roti) Graeme came over after 5 and watched the two videos Shyam had made.
Friday 1st April 05
Qdos, Jan (an artist and musician the Prasads had met previously) came to do some pot painting. For me it was a day of general waiting around. Waiting for Jan to arrive before going back to Springwood to clean, a focused frantic cleaning job to be done before 12. I don’t think Jan trip was entirely ‘satisfying’. She was anxious to be back on the road. The first two, ‘overdone’, the second two ‘just right’ and the final one, the rushed one, Giri Raj “no good one”. Finished around 5 and back to Geelong. Stopped along the way for a beach experience, it was relieving. After dinner a walk along Eastern Beach and sat watching the car parade.
Saturday 2nd April 05
Saturday morning demonstration at Karingal, the idea being to entice some pot buyers to the gallery, this did not happen but the few that did come were fascinated by the throwing on the traditional wheels.
Victoria Market by 1.30 to do some shopping for the evening meal, also, it is one of my favourite places and I was keen for the Prasads to experience the place. It was all a disappointment for me but a learning experience. Much discussion about the evening meal, what meat to buy. (Although the Prasads are Hindu they occasionally eat meat, it took some time to establish what meat it was, as the word mutton is used in Hindi for goat, we established male goat was OK and BK was happy to cook) We got to the big sliding doors of the meat market, they opened with a gush of meat smells and BK balked, Shyam and I went in, we had to walk the length of the meat market to get to the stalls where my sister told me they sold goat, when we got there, Shyam baulked. They don’t feel safe to eat meat here, and we don’t feel safe to eat meat in India. ( Their experience is that animals are killed and you are buying the meat on that day and eating it, our meat looks like it could have been siting ‘refrigerated’ for some time.) Lunch, pizza and borek, no enthusiasm, vegetable shopping, no enthusiasm, all were getting frustrated with the shopping experience. I was reminded of my frustrations when shopping with Josephine and Visanti in New Delhi.
Arrived at my sister’s about 4pm and had some relaxing time before preparations for the much discussed evening meal. We did separate vegetable and lamb kebabs, potatoes and eggplant and delicious rhubarb and apple pastries with ricotta and yogurt cream out on the deck under a mild night sky, lovely. Everyone enjoyed the lamb kebabs. Peter, Shyam and I then did a tour of St Kilda trying a few bars for Shyam’s satisfaction.
Sunday 3rd April 05
A lot of waiting around for one party or another. I had emails to send and Shyam documents re the shipment, this has been a big point of frustration, me thinking an offshore company cannot collect $ for the Australian Government. Shyam being adamant they had paid all costs in India, and who is this Harmony? (When making the arrangements for collecting the freight the freight forwarding company insisted all costs to be paid before the goods could be released, and so I paid not realising the Prasads had prepaid all costs).
Finally left Tanya’s around 11, taking the lightrail into the city and then the circle tram for some sight seeing, all low key. (call from Zoe, she had just sold a large anar $680,) Got off at Federation Square and walked to Southgate for lunch. Thalis all round and I should have had one as well but went for a disappointing Japanese soup. Has a quick look in the Ian Potter Gallery. Walked around the city, and had a coffee in the Myer window coffee shop. I am beginning to relax. Lightrail home. Pumpkin subzi and cantaloupe for dinner and an early night.
Monday 4th April 05
First thing to call Halford International (the freight forwarding company that had cleared the freight) Carolyn there says there is no chance of a refund unless she has documentary evidence of the payment. Looking at the emails Shyam has printed out and freight arrival notices and there is Harmony. She had sent me emails but they had arrived after we had left Tallarook on the 11th, they stated not to pay charges as already paid in India. Rang Harmony, she knows all about the situation and there is a cheque on the way for $576. I think this is great news, the Prasads think what about the rest of the money.
Drive over to Northcote Pottery for a tour, Chayle is happy to see all and we collect some shards for covering the kilns in Geelong ( in 2003 when Giri Raj was in Australia we did a workshop here so it was familiar territory for him and Chayle had been very supportive of both projects).
Drive to Geelong and a quick lunch at Corio Street before heading to Karingal to do the sagger firing 3.30 to 7.30, (saggers, being large pots of two parts in which to fire pots to achieve a particular finish). Firing was uneventful. Giri Raj was disappointed all pieces had not been put in the sun to warm up. Angoori and Zoe made some roti cooking dishes. Quick rice dinner, we were all stuffed.
Tuesday 5th April 05
Cultural/firing day at Karingal. Beautiful sunny day, the pots warming in the filtered sun had to go into full sun. Bharni, on and polishing, it took some time to find the right soft cloth for the polishing, tried several old sheets but no good, finally one of Giri Raj’s teashirt/singlet was torn ( Bharni is an iron rich earth that the Prasads cover the pots with to achieve the red colour, they brought it with them.) The kiln went on at 12.30.
An Indian lunch was to be a feature of the day, Zoe had organized for a local Indian restaurant to make food and we were to do the roti and so a marathon making session happened for the collected.
Fired the kiln mostly with wood, the gathered potters were interested to see firing with sawdust, the sawdust we has procured was damp so that presented problems!! Finished firing at 7.30.
Wednesday 6th April 05
The local potters and we arrived at Karingal at 9 to open the kiln. Most of the soft velvety carbon deposits had blown off over night. The un-saggered pieces came out first and so the excitement built for the cracking open of the first sagger. Most were packed bottom up so was added suspense to then wait for the piece to be lifted out and dusted off and then be amazed at the transformation of the pieces, rich reds to deep blacks. The two large unsaggered pieces painted by Linda, anar and mudka are powerful in imagery and form. In an hour we were back on the road to Lorne.
A tight firing programme but I am dogged to stick to the programme. Today the bisque had to be packed and fired. So packing was straight forward. Ana motivated by result and not process. The Prasads not really included in the process, an anomaly; with their own firings it is constant vigilance with this, a lack of participatory interest. I take Angoori home for dinner cooking. When we return to Qdos Ana is bogging up the kiln and the others don’t know that the firing is finished.
After dinner we watch the Graeme Wilkie tapes from 1985 on fast forward and rewind.
Thursday 7th April 05
Cooling day for the kiln and us, other than BK, he throws big forms and we assist Graeme to alter them with calico covered boards. Muscle from us. Direction, quick action and decisiveness from him. He is optimistic for all pieces until they are flat. Large bowl forms reduced to dynamic folded forms, some simple, and some complex depending on the fall of the clay. All is conducted in a calm way in the face of dramatic action, a still atmosphere. BK is happy, singing in the bathroom in the morning and playing piano at night. Giri Raj is not so happy, too much siting around. He stated he would rather “workshop workshop, workshop” ( Zoe rang through to say they had sold the biggest pot, in Giri Raj’s opinion the best pot $780, ).
We get some DVDs for the next week. And watch and rewatch Monsoon Wedding, I still see scenes I have not seen before.
Friday 8th April 05
Glazing day. We had known some pieces had blown at the bottom of the kiln as the cones from there had disappeared. We all worked tirelessly to get the glazing done. Graeme was fantastic, focused and generous. As the day wore on the glazing deteriorated, but the kiln door was closed by 6. I had to take myself for a quite coffee break.
Saturday 9th April 05
Morning, Ana will have the kiln on. 9.45, it is time to get organized to go to Qdos. I hear a tabla beating, BK getting ready for a performance this afternoon.
Later; it ended up being a bad start to the day, actually couldn’t find BK when it was time to leave so we assumed he had tired of waiting and had walked to Qdos. He turned up at Qdos later and was in a bad mood. The enthusiasm for music was lost and as we didn’t turn up with lunch till 1.30. Music off!! Decided the best path was distraction, short trip to Erskin Falls. Some of us walked to the river. Then to the Cumberland River where some friends were camping, all were keen to see Steph and her family. From my observation it seems the Prasads are beginning to appreciate the water more. Had the best cup of tea with the campers.
Back to Qdos all in better moods. Graeme was keen to get some music happening so they set up on the balcony while the cabaret was doing a final practice. Giri Raj and BK burst into sound not conscious the cabaret was in rehearsal, they did not appreciate it. We were Graeme’s guests for the evening. The performance was magical on the balcony, on the balmy evening. We then had dinner. Giri Raj and Angoori obviously not so comfortable in the unfamiliar place, the café. Stayed for a short time for the cabaret. Back at Springwood some of us watched Japanese Story.
Sunday 10th April 05
Final clean up at Springwood and on the road again. The idea of the day was to visit some local galleries and potteries. Quick stop at Flying Fishes,( a small gallery in Lorne where I sell my ceramics) Then dropped into two closed potteries. Finally at Bellbrae an open studio. Very friendly Jennifer was just back from the beach and being a very large women the Prasads were a little amazed at her attire. She quickly got changed and showed us around her studio; it was a great contrast to the studio at Qdos.
Found Julie Shaw’s house, (a pottery colleague of mine who had been to all the Karingal workshops and so was a familiar face for the Prasads.) Had a beautiful lunch with lots of good conversation and a quick look at her one person studio. A bit of a tour around Queenscliff, ( a close by ‘quaint’ seaside town.) And then home to Corio Street.
Monday 11th April 05
The day of the much anticipated opening of the stoneware kiln. Tired drive to Lorne after the morning opp-shopping. Arrived to find Ana had already opened the kiln. The immediate reaction of the Prasad’s was impressed enthusiasm and much “how is this one/how is that one”. And much frantic unpacking much to the frustration of Ana’s ordered approach. Pulled the trolley out fully and all was disclosed. Inexperienced glazing application and choice was revealed, my first reaction was of disappointment, but on sitting with some of the pieces they are improving. The 2 mudka had slumped onto their supports so were now flat bottomed, the 2 platters Jan had painted were muted and had lost detail. Some laughable results. The massed shino on the ‘chamber pot’. Angoori’s collection of small pts had worked well with a copper red glaze. Graeme came over and did a quick summation. “Stoneware is hard to work with”.
He had bought over the record of sales $480. It was difficult for him to arrive at costs from his side, but before we left he handed over a cheque in an envelope which remained unopened until we were in the car, he had only deducted $100 from the sales for the costs of clay and firings which was most generous.
Did a ‘random’ packing of pots and wheels filling the back of the ute. Graeme offered to take any large pieces that did not sell from the Karingallery Exhibition and so it was decided to leave the big bilowni there, this offer was another aspect of a very positive farewell. In discussing the firing of the big pot BK had made, to big for the gas kiln, we arrived at the possibility of BK vapas return for the anagamma firing then going with Graeme to the Gold Coast Ceramic Convention and the Graeme vapas to New Delhi.( These ideas did not become reality). The positive feelings of goodwill, generosity and enthusiasm for the just completed experience were overwhelming. A jubilant vapas to Geelong and a memorable meal at Shyam’s insistence at Korinoor. ( a local Indian restaurant, generally the Prasads don’t like to eat out, even after a long day and late arrival home Angoori would prepare a meal)
Tuesday 12th April 05
My head was not in the space for a workshop at IKE but Robbie stepped in and I stepped up. Short throwing demo and preparation for firing, a very different group, First years, Kennedy a Yorta Yorta man kept the jokes coming. The kiln was packed by 12.30 and fired to about 6. Wendy Brabham (Director of IKE) was in a very positive mood she had just has discussions with Greg Burgess about plans for a new building.
Vapas Corio Street for rice and dhal and lengthy discussions on food and jokes from their side. “There would be no washing up if all you eat is bread” (their thoughts being all we eat is bread) Then long discussion with Shyam on ‘cultural practices’ theirs and ours.
Wednesday 13th April 05
A big day at IKE, throwing demos and the second years had a go on the wheel. Bharni on and polishing of pots and Angoori decorated 2 mudkas. Them all up to the bharti to unpack yesterday’s sagger firing, ‘successful’. Repacked and had the kiln on by 1. Wendy and Robbie invited to share roti and hot green chilli lunch. Wendy continually positively exuberant about the whole workshop experience. Over lunch talked about the possibility of evening music and cooking subji and roti. I came back to Corio Street to get musical instruments and roti making equipment. Music in the sun was beautiful. The students had been given heat about not staying around yesterday so were more ‘attentive’ today. Big food production with Cinnamon back and forward to the shops and residence for equipment and cooking potatoes. Shyam is invited to join the group for Wednesday at the Waurn Ponds Pub. Robbie later has a chat with me to chat with Shyam about possible intentions of J ( one of the students showing a particular interest in Shyam) and he be prepared. How do you talk about such things? Later she phones with similar warning, but more specific. “This is part of my responsibility…”. So on the way to the pub the chaperone stops the car and has the frank talk, I started it with “this is a difficult conversation to have………” Got to the pub full of students and 4 old fart students and myself. Nice to see the students outside the workshop environment. J said to me ” Didn’t you trust me, Shyam said he would be on his own?”. At 10 the disco opened so was great to get into some dancing. At midnight it was time for me to go, so gave Shyam the address for a taxi.
Thursday 14th April 05
A rest day, Giri Raj was interested to know how and when Shyam got home last night.
Op shopping to 1.30, cashed Graeme’s cheque without problem. Karingallery at 4 for demonstrations. No clay, no parking and a delusional woman wanting to buy the whole exhibition!! Rushing, late for hair appointment but then relax. In conversation it became apparent that in India there is a ritual when opening something, where light is bought to the event, so planned that. Finally leave Karingallery at 7 dinner finished by 9, a walk and bed exhausted by 10.30.
Friday 15th April 05
This morning for the first time I had to escape the crowded bungalow to the coolness of the garden and take some gelsemium. “Keep calm for the day Sandra”
Unpacking of the kiln at IKE, presentations of gifts and re-rendering of the kiln with a fresh poo mix. As this was not a timetabled activity the other lecturers were keen for their students to be back. Wendy continued in her enthusiasms for the project and future activities, a most positive end to that workshop. Corio Street for lunch and then over to Zoe’s to pack the remaining pots. Shopping and relaxed wanderings for BK Shyam and self, and when we vapas Jan and Bruce were there. Had a fun time, the 7 of us in the small bungalow, lots of warm conversation. Broken sleep, snoring from all sides.
Saturday 16th April 05
The day of the exhibition ( including the pots the Prasads had bought from home workshop. Pieces from the IKE and Karingal workshops and the residency at Qdos.)
By this stage my remarks for the opening were formed, went over these with Shyam and firmed up the structure. Lovely walk with Jan and Bruce along Eastern Beach and low key morning generally, but the pace accelerated to near unmanageable.
Over to the gallery to do the final preparation. Giri Raj painted the front step and the wheel for the opening ritual. After spreading the rose petals there was peace in that space. Back to Corio Street and everyone had arrived and a rush to get showered and dressed, fortunately the ironing had already been done. Got to the gallery and felt at ease especially after a glass of wine. Met Suzanne Davies ( a councillor on the Australia-India Council and there to open the exhibition). She and her husband had already bought 2 pots, one being my favourite. Giri Raj had bought out the wheel to show someone so it seemed appropriate to get out a little clay and throw a piece. That made a focus to then start the opening procedures. I felt at ease speaking. Stumbled momentarily when thanking the Prasads, after looking at Tanya, (our family have the trait of easily crying at emotional times and I could see Tanya had tears, in fact rereading this now two years hence I have also cried at the memory of the event) but fortunately kept it together and covered most of what I had planned to say. Tanya and others said I was relaxed and spoke from the heart. The opening ritual by Suzanne was most appropriate, she got many of the children to light the many wicks after she lit the first one. The lighted bowl (made by BK and Steph) with all the surrounding rose petals looked beautiful.
Then a rushed pack up and off the Melbourne to a joint birthday celebration of some friends which everyone was invited to. After eating I took Angoori and Giri Raj back to Tanya’s. The rest of us partied on.
Sunday 17th April 05
Relaxed start to Sunday at Tanya and Scot’s, and then off to Victoria Market for some gift buying, that was all fine, much wandering up and down isles. Angoori and Giri Raj were buying the others looking. Home and lunch by 3, which made an interesting dimension to the day as I was anxious for Will to have an early night as he was off early the next day for a school camp. I cooked my usual assorted dishes for dinner which was not met with any enthusiasm; calls for bread at the end of it from the Prasads meant they had missed their roti.
Monday 18th April 05
Laid back morning, finalized money matters and a trip into town for ata flour , delivering pots to my studio, collect glaze tests and some glaze recipes for Bruvnesh and 20 x $1 coins for Angoori. Lunch and then the day begins to get crammed, Shyam and I begin to organise images for the talk at the Victorian Ceramic Group meeting that night, we ran out of time and so only got Qdos and Karingal firing images downloaded, but we do get to Box Hill on time. Committee meeting in progress and I make a small contribution on the progress of the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust Exhibition (see postscript).
I am unprepared but relaxed about the talk and ad lib while the technology partly fails. The data projector won’t synchronize with the laptop. We then all gather around the laptop and view the images from that. According to all it was of interest, the film of work in the home workshop is always well received.
General enthusiasm and presentations of gifts.
I tried to remain optimistic about eating out in the midst of no interest, many places already closed, finally arrived at a Chinese restaurant open to 2a.m. Ordered too much food but I did enjoy it. Tiredly home getting here just after 1.am. (11/2 hour drive).
Tuesday 19th April 05
Cancel the trip to Shepparton Gallery (To see its wonderful Australian ceramic collection) and proceed a measured day of quietness and final departing arrangements. Went through the multitude of images (and despite the amount still do not seem to ‘cover’ the time here) and transfer them. Shyam had a good look at the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust publications and was able to point out names of interest and relevance and began formulating more areas to pursue support, all positive.
Left on time to get to the airport. 9.p.m. Initial debriefing conversation in the car. Expressed my appreciation and the general conclusion, how amazing to have all spent 40 days together in such harmony, they appreciated the welcome into our family. Shyam expressed his comfort in this environment and I reflected it is similar for me in India. Also discussed how the two tours differed.
Tanya and Scot arrived at the airport when we did. Minor weight problems with the hand luggage and I took some of the heavy pots. A brief time sitting and filling out forms, by this stage all was said. As soon as we stood for the final parting the tears stated from my side. At the farewell Angoori and I clasped in sobs, the others were more dignified but moved. Tanya also had tears in response to my emotion. Through the doors and we are off to get coffee for my trip home. The phone rings and I think it must be Peter, it is Shyam, and they have weight problems. So we re-meet. Conclude one bag, things for the next day in K.L. can go in checked in luggage and because they are under weight between the 4 of them it can go on, a quick second goodbye.
Wednesday 20th April 05
I am home, alone for the first time in 40 days. There is space for all their faces. I begin to assimilate this past experience.
Sunday 24th April 05
Five days on and there is some pain in the missing, questions not asked, images not taken, and wondering how life back in New Delhi is going. I assume it has its difficulties as it does for me, to adjust to my other life.
Thursday 12th May 05
After the first week, over the physical exhaustion of the tour but struggled with attachments and getting connected with my other work. Two weeks on, the pain of severed ‘connections’ easing but dislocation from my own work still present. Three weeks on, getting adjusted to the low energy of my other life and beginning to enjoy being back in my studio.
The Australia-India Council financially supported this project.
Postscript July 07
Angoori Devi and Giri Raj Prasad continue life and work as before.
Bhuvnesh’s son arrived soon after their return from Australia. He has opened an electrical shop.
Shyam married late 05 and him and his wife Maneskshi’s daughter was born in September 06.
Impressed Contemporary Australian Ceramics hosted by Ceramics Victoria and Delhi Blue Pottery Trust was held at Gallery Twentyfive New Delhi March 06. A second joint exhibition is in the planning stages, to be held at the Visual Arts Gallery, The India Habitat Centre New Delhi November 2010.Giri Raj Prasad, Shyam Prasad and Manori Lal ( Tour 03) will return to Australia late February 2008 to complete a series of workshops at ARTPLAY, Melbourne and attend the 2008 Pottery Expo at Warrandyte Victoria.