Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tshe Village of Woolsery,

In the village of Woolsery where Eric Lott attended the local church as a child, I made a sketch of the Church of All Hallows. It is here in the graveyard of the Church that the parents of Eric, and other friends and relatives are buried.
In August 2012 I accompanied Rev.Dr. Eric Lott and his wife Christine to the village in Devon where Eric was brought up as a child working on his family farm. Visiting this part of Devon was for me a very interesting experience as it helped me to understand better the world in which Eric discovered his spiritual quest, which finally brought him to live in a remote village environment in Andhra Pradesh.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Worship and Play in a secular world.

                    The village Church viewed from the playground near the village green.

                                Nearby Church of Saxelby, where I attended a village feast.

In a service led by Eric Lott in a nearby Church, he explored the meaning of the text "Allow the Children to come to me"--which has been a theme that seems to appear often in the context of a society where play in the form of sports seems to have an even more important role in cultural life than prayer. Religion is often thought of as something essentially joyless, a duty that has to be performed, out of fear of a God who seems to often forbid the very things that give us pleasure. This could be the legacy of a very puritanical understanding of religion, which seems not to celebrate the body, and all that the senses enjoy. The child in all of us is essentially playful. This has certainly been an important aspect of Hindu thought, where Creation is understood as arising out of the Divine playfulness. As an artist I feel that this is something we need to re-discover.

The Church within a community.

Eric Lott, ordained in the Church of South India, often exercises his priestly role in the local Church of Old Dalby. There are also other small Churches scattered in the folds of the hills and woodlands of this part of the country. These often go back a thousand years. Even though British society is now very secularized, there is a sense of belonging to this very English form of cultural life, where the local Church still acts as a focal point. The building is part of the landscape, and has acted as an axis around which community life in the countryside has revolved over many centuries.

An English Village: Old Dalby near Melton Mowbray.

View of Dalby in the Wold (Old Dalby)

The village of Old Dalby in Leicestershire, where my old friends Eric and Chris Lott live, has been a place where I have been welcomed over the past twenty years. Here I have been able to reflect on the relation of the traditional village of the midlands to the landscape. In fact the town from which my own Mother came, and the part of England where here ancestors have been settled over generations, is not far away from this village. And so over the years I have felt very much part of this landscape, which however is very different from the landscape around my home in Karnataka, in South India. How can I find links between this landscape and the culture that it has given rise to, rooted on this soil, and my own Indian context ?


                                                                        Fish pond Old Dalby

During my recent travels in the U.K. I tried to record some of my impressions in the sketch book that I carry with me. In a sense this journey has been a continuation of my earlier expedition in the Wyanad not so far from my home in a village near to Bangalore. That trip I kept an account of under the title "Honey Gatherers". The concept of food gathering, which goes back to our ancient migrant cultures can be understood in a new way as we become Global citizens. Travelling abroad has always been a source of inspiration to writers, painters, and others for whom crossing boundaries both geographic and cultural is an enriching experience. In the following images I hope to express some of my own thoughts related to travelling abroad, and also to finding new ways of discovering the spirit of a place.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Santh Kabir navigating the waters.

The mystic poet Kabir (15th Century) navigates the waters that flow between different Faith traditions. He is neither a Muslim, nor a Hindu; and yet he draws insights from both these great spiritual ways. His vessel is like a seed, which goes between the different worlds or religious language.