Textiles trip to Kutch

Towards the end of 1978, as a twenty two year old, I spent an amazing three months travelling across India, trying to visit textile areas I was interested in. Prior to my trip I had spent a day or so in the British Library planning my itinerary.

Towards the end of my visit, I luckily got talking to a Sikh, Mr Oberoi, at a textile fair in Madras (now known as Chennai). He kindly wrote me a letter of introduction to the Director of the Gujarat Handicraft Corporation in Ahmedabad. I back-tracked and returned to Ahmedabad, several days travel across the continent, with my letter, specifically to see if I could get help to visit the remote desert villages in Kutch that I was interested in. When I got there, it turned out that the Gujarat Handicraft Corporation’s designer/buyer, Suleika, was going on a buying trip the very next day and I was invited to accompany her.

As well as visiting Kutch, we also stayed in the Ajrakh printing village of Dhamadka on our way to and from the desert. I was honoured to stay with the Khatri family overnight and gained real insight into what life was like living in a printing village. The headman, Mohammed Khatri, travelled onwards with us on our journey to Kutch. Sadly Dhamadka has now been forced to relocate to Ajrakhpur, essentially because the required special water supply for printing had dried up.

I was only able to take a very few photographs as it was towards the end of my visit to India and I had nearly run out of film. I tried hard to make every image count. The luxury of the digital camera did not exist then so there was no capacity to take multiple images until you got the shot you wanted. Without doubt this visit has helped to foster and develop my love of colour and pattern and influenced my future life.

Forty years after that original visit, I finally got to make textile works using my Indian photographs as the source inspiration. (See Indian girls from Kutch). My Committed to Cloth work also drew inspiration from this 40 year old trip. ( See https://anniefolkardquilts.uk/2021/10/01/wet-and-wild-weekends for recent work that has been influenced by the journey I made.

Thanks to the powers of social media I am now in touch with my late host’s grandson Sufiyan Khatri. His family continue to produce the most beautiful fabrics using the traditional techniques but continuing to develop the tradition. IG: @sufiyankhatri.