The end of February has come so fast that I have almost not managed to get this newsletter out, so on the last day, here it is!! It has been a pretty busy month – I had to get to Sydney a couple of times to do bit of my old medical job – chairing a conference and a bit of advisory work. Anyway, have also painted, drawn and run an interesting workshop about texture in art. I love this piece of interior design by a client who bought my painting, ‘Turquoise Storm’ – it combines colour and textural elements beautifully.

Interior Design Skills - texture and colour
Interior Design Skills – texture and colour

There are a couple of ways you can think about texture – it may be visual texture or it may be sensual texture. I have tried to use the perception of texture in a recent acrylic painting which I called ‘Memories of India’ – it’s subject matter includes Marigolds, copper vessels and the silky sheerness of a sari and it was the hard shininess of metal against the silky sari that was my object in creating this work.

In fact the whole topic of India takes me back to a long ago time when I ventured out of Australia for the first time since I had arrived aged 11 to travel

Memories of India
Memories of India

through the ‘top part’ of the Indian subcontinent ………..a few paragraphs of my memories;

Tickets were purchased for a one way flight to Kathmandu (Nepal) and seats on an Overlander bus that would take us from Nepal to London via north India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. I so remember looking at the atlas to find Herat (Afghanistan), Eskanderum (Turkey) and Istanbul on the Bosphorus. It all seemed impossibly exotic and totally remote. By the time we left Sydney in January 1976, all I wanted was to escape my life and have some thinking time (an all too familiar pattern for me).  I found it impossible to understand the unravelling of my preordained destiny as a successful professional. Travelling the world in a bus was a perfect escape.

There were 30 of us on that bus, mostly under 35, but one couple in their 40s as well as a courier (tour leader) and driver – also under 35. A mixture of Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Swiss and German. We set off after a couple of days orientation in Kathmandu in high spirits, with the warning in our ears that hotels would be basic sometimes, especially in Asia, so that we could sleep in luxury in Europe. A truer word was never spoken! 

The Super Behzad Hotel in Herat, was no different to the  ‘not so super’ Behzad Hotel in Kandahar – neither had any functioning plumbing and we soon learned that the open fields were the toilets of choice – men on one side of the bus and women on the other. A rapid lessening of the conventions of life in Australia occurred and apart from the odd person with the ‘runs’ did not trouble us again.

Life starts to be stripped down to its most basic elements. Flies on food, men urinating, children begging, funeral pyres only half burnt (fuel for a proper cremation being too difficult to obtain) before being sent off down the Ganges at Varanasi start to become invisible, you see the laughter, the human kindness, the resilience of spirit and the beauty of bearing in a woman working on a road gang, eyes lighting up at the gift of a single aspirin for an old man’s arthritis, the sharing of the warmth of a tiny grass fire in a hut for a family of five with the snow still lying on the ground and the incredible, amazing, jolting beauty of the Taj Mahal seen for the first time’.

Hand embroidered pashmina bought in Delhi in 2011
Hand embroidered pashmina bought in Delhi in 2011

My next Saturday workshop (11th March) will be on COLOUR, GLORIOUS COLOUR! And, of course, its hard to beat Asia again for colour – think wonderful clashing pinks, purples, lime greens, yellow and orange. We will think about complementary colours and harmonising colours and create something wonderful in the class, just like the February workshop did with texture. I have two places left for that workshop and two for the next Art Retreat in Nimbin. Contact me if you are interested in either at

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