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Jodhpur

In 1995, Philip Mead and I were lucky enough to be chosen for what was then the third round of the Wales/Rajasthan Artists’ Exchange Programme, supported by the Arts Council of Wales and ideated by Richard Cox, as part of his work for them. Rajasthani contemporary artists were housed in typical Cardiff terraces, were given a studio at the Art School and two-person exhibitions. They were delighted and appreciative of the offer. When Phil and I arrived in Jodhpur, we were greeted by an escort of moustachioed ‘Rao Rajahs’ in exquisite, colour coded turbans in open-top military jeeps, who pointed out the lights burning in the Moghul fortress of Mehrangarh, perched on the bluff 600 feet atop the blue city, saying excitedly “look, there’s your studio” …

Jodhpur marked a significant change in my practice as a painter. Until that point, on previous residencies in Tuscany and Andalucía, I had painted observationally in situ; inside palaces and churches, or on the streets. In India this was impossible. By the time the easel was set and the paints on the palette, there were 50 people stood in front of the subject, staring directly and candidly at me. I had to learn to work from memory. I bought printed material from newsagents, paint from the hardware stores and collected debris from the street, to make collages which I overpainted to document daily experience. Phil was already working with this methodology, and I learned considerably from his experience. There was a period after the residency, when we were working towards ‘Syzygy’, (a two-person touring exhibition in Wales, curated by Sandra Jackaman for Newport Museum and Art Gallery) that our work was closely aligned, as the title suggests.