Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Back to Dhaka

We began to head back to Dhaka. We were accompanied and guided by a man returning from the market for part of the journey.
Past village shops with the local television


Tushil wanted to take a rickshaw back from the first hamlet, but I asked if it would be ok to walk, the pace here was very different to the city, much easier and I wanted to make the most of it, when ever I visit places I often start by just walking. What was lovely about being out in the countryside was that here you didn't have to watch the ground for missing bits of pavement or other obstructions. Nor were you constantly looking over your shoulder to avoid being run over! Here you could enjoy the rhythm of your step and look around as you went. We saw much more at the slower pace. A wonderful house raised up on stilts and made from woven bamboo panels. Further along the road we came across the workshop where they made the panels.
Long lengths of bamboo were carefully cut and split pulling off this slithers of the material which were then laid out and woven together, the bands of the bamboo create an interesting pattern. The woven strips were different shades and the weave tilted the surface capturing the light at different levels. they reminded me of the silver fan in the museum and the woven bamboo objects I had brought .
See the man working Bamboo here: Bangladesh - Working Bamboo.
At the market a different material was used to shelter. large sheets of plastic and tarpaulin were used to keep off the sun and probably the rain too at other times of the year.
The blue gave a haze to the narrow lanes, full of people selling their wares.
Further back towards the main road we passed a field with a low structure used for growing vegetables. Woven reed figures sat upon the structure, some eerily headless.
Tushil explained that they were there to ward off bad luck ( the evil eye). Its common in some parts of Hindu culture to place a doll or figure on property to do this. These were beautifully proportioned and made.
We heard a noise from a building further along and stopped to look, inside a family were weaving ropes.
A mass of lines and wheels moved at high speed to wind and twist the fibres. It suddenly felt very industrial with so many machines in such a small and remote spot.
See them making ropes here: Bangladesh - Making Ropes.Eventually we reached the road and hopped into a local bus - a bit like an oversized tuc-tuc rickshaw. The space at the back allowed for several people to sit and for others to hang on.
We took the tuc-tuc to the main road, See some of the journey here: Journey back towards the main road to Dhaka.
There we picked up one of the large battered buses back to Dhaka, back to the noise of horns and the city.

We passed large sites where the alluvial clay was being dug from the dry river bed and shipped to the brick fields.
and again we passed the beautiful domed structure of a building supported on bamboo props.In the evening Owen hired a band and a truck to meet his partner Lene at the airport, she was returning from a six month placement in Ladakh, North West India. What a welcoming party! the band played, in the back of a small pick up truck, most of the way back from the airport.