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Journey to the Arts End

a travel blog by Eric Broome

I am a practicing visual artist from Tasmania, Australia. I am an abstract painter and I want to make my mark on the world. I dropped everything 10 years ago and decided that I would do nothing else but make art for the rest of my life. Was I dreaming? I don't think so. Since then all I've done is make art and work in the arts. I've sold much of my work and I've made a living from it. On November 30, 2006 I embark on a seven month journey as an artist in residence. First, I'm spending three months at Global Arts Village in Delhi,India then a month at OBRAS in Estremoz in Portugal and then I have a three month stay at Foundation Karrvaz in Albacete in Spain. After that I'm off to Shanghai, China and then Sydney Australia. My plan is to hold an exhibition of my work in each city. How does an artist get to travel using very little of his own money? Find out in my blog, "Journey to the Arts End".
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Journey to Delhi

Delhi, India

The flight from Melborne, Australia to Delhi, India via Hong Kong takes 17 hours.
Arriving jet lagged at Delhi airport at 3am in the morning is a surreal experience. A Korean guy next to me on the flight who has made many business trips to Delhi advised me to run from the plane to the customs check. I did and I was one of the first in the line.

Many say that the most overwhelming first experience of Delhi is the people. For me it was the beaurocracy.
Getting through customs took me an hour and as I went through to baggage collection I looked back at hundreds of tourists with anxious faces. They new they were going to be there for a long time.

It was another hour before my bag came through the hole in the wall. I had time to look around and what I saw was what I expected to see. the airport of a third world country that had seen no maintainence for a long time and a smell that was at once familiar and lingered intentensely .

I took my pack to the exit and started looking for my taxi guy. The residency that I was staying at provided this service and I am so grateful that they did. I walked through the sea of taxi drivers holding cards and suddenly saw my name. THe driver was more relieved than I was and shook my hand warmly.

He began a conversation with me in what he thought was english. I just talked back and nodded. He took my pack and off we went through what seemed like thousands of people standing around looking like they were waiting.

We made our way onto the street and the first thing I saw were broken down taxis. hundreds of them, beaten up and coughing and spluttering in a chaotic chant.

My first sensory experience was the thick smell of incense, smog and rotting.
Delhi is also dimly lit.
I was overwhelmed by my first encounter with Delhi and I will it fondly for the rest of my life.
My taxi driver kept walking and talking as we came to a tunnel.

Hundreds of beggars that lined the tunnel were wailing for help. "No problem" my driver kept saying. We reached the end of the tunnel and into a car park where this time thousands of vehicles were loading luggage and people onto their cars roof racks. It was chaos. I was enthralled.

We finally got to his taxi and the disappointment on my face must have confused him. His taxi was a newish model Daihatsu. I was expecting a beat up wreck.
"I'll take a ride in one before I leave" I said to myself.
We drove.

There are no road rules in India. If anything got in the way, an old truck or a three wheeler we just swerved around them. All the trucks had "Stop" and "blow your horn" written on the back of them. In India red lights signal an increase in speed.
The streets were full. People, cows and dirt.
We came to a set of big gates at Global Arts Village and with a toot of his horn my taxi driver was admitted by a man dressed as half security guard half Punjaby.

We got out beyond the gate and I was led by both the security guard and the driver through the dark grounds of the village to my room.

They let themselves into my room and had a long look around. I let them have this moment. It must be rare.
I shook their hands, thanked them and off they went.

I was exhausted and I slept that morning in my room with the thick indescribable air of Delhi.

I arose at 9.30am with the sound of workmen and women thatching a roof, sweeping and hammering.
when I went outside I was in an oasis. The beautiful grounds of the village.
I met Madhi who offered me breakfast in the pergoda. As I ate the incredible food I looked with awe at what was around me.

working men and women everywhere. Before me was a microcosm of the population of Delhi.
Everywhere you go in the village there are people to serve you. During the day I met and spoke with many of them including the coordinator Sunil and the founder and Guru, Ashwin.

He directs his village in a manner that I have never seen before.
I can see Ashwin is the lord and master around here.

He invited me to have lunch with him and his staff. I'm the first resident artist here and I am so glad I have that priviledge before the other ten artists arrive in two days.
Here everything is catered for. My room is very comfortable and the food is amazing. There is plenty of fresh drinking water and every now and then a staff member interupts my work to offer me a hot chai tea.

The mosquitos are here for another week when winter starts then they are gone. Until then I'm taking my anti malerials every day.
I've pinched myself a few times today.
After my conversations with Ashwin I have realised the commercial potential of my work as an artist in Delhi.
I'm off to bed. I don't notice the air anymore
All in one day.
Incredible India!

permalink written by  Eric Broome on October 31, 2006 from Delhi, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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The new journey begins

Delhi, India

I arose at 5.45am this morning for meditation. It lasts for one hour and as yet I am not getting it. The yoga is a diferent story. It seems t o be OK
As I ate breakfast the first artist arrived.
Nataniel is from Mozambique. I walked him around the village and he asked if I had been outside the secluded compound. We met up with Sunil the coordinator of the village who through our conversation hadf told us that an indian sim card for our mobiles would get us a cheaper rate. Nataniel and I decided to walk to the nearby village of Ghitorni to get our new sims and some supplies.
We met the guard at the gate and ventured out onto the main rd. Go left and you head for the city of Delhi. Go right and a short walk takes you to Ghitorni. It is a shit fight. Cars, bikes and people clash in a chaotic embrace.It is overwhelming.
For some reason I walked through the village with confidence, fending off the beggars and awed by the atmosphere. Nataniel and I made our way to the shops we wanted to use.
we enjoyed the bartering and finally returned to the village with a feeling of exhaustion. That is the thing about Delhi, it exhausts you with its chaos. We were so thankful that we had our retreat to return to.
The other artists were arriving that night.

permalink written by  Eric Broome on November 1, 2006 from Delhi, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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Global Arts Village, Delhi

Delhi, India

Global Arts Village (GAV) is an artist's residency program designed to bring artist's from all over the world to work together in a retreat.
It is a bustling little community situated in Ghitorni one hours drive from the centre of Delhi. It is very eco friendly and the bulidings are constructed of rendered mud brick and thatched roofing.
Situated just outside the centre of Delhi, GAV offers the chance for artists to work uninterrupted.
Accomodation, meals and studios are provided. The residents are served 3 meals a day and as I write I am served a chai tea from one of the workers.
The atmosphere is friendly.
I am here on my own at this time there are 10 other artists arriving in the next two days.
I am both looking forward to meeting them and a little pensive about how we will interact as a group.
Only time will tell.
The GAV program includes a choice of one of two 4 day trips, a journey through the golden triangle or a trip to the residence of the Dhali Lama in Dharamasala in the Himalayas.
It also includes meditation, yoga and ayervedic massage. Today I had my first session of all three.
I'll do the yoga I was taught at home each morning but I'll have the massage again.

permalink written by  Eric Broome on November 2, 2006 from Delhi, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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The Other Artists Arrive

Delhi, India

Nataniel and I met at breakfast and 7 artists emerged. Paly, Marissa and April from New York, John and Irene from Tallahasee, Kerry from United States and Maria from Toronto. They expressed their need for supplies so Nataniel and I took them to the village. When we returned we all pretty much sat around and bonded. It was immediate. We all have so much in common. the day went well.
The last two artists arrive tomorrow. Will they complete a solid group of artists?
I fall asleep wondering.

permalink written by  Eric Broome on November 3, 2006 from Delhi, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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The Last Two Artists Arrive

Delhi, India

Today is my Daughter Olivia's twenty fist birthday. I awake thinking about her. Happy birthday darling!
I go to breakfast and meet the last two artists. Pamela from New York and Patricia from United States.
We sat around most of the day and continued our bond.
This group is solid.
Our coordinator Sunil appears and announces that we have been invited to an art exhibition in Delhi City. We gathered at the gate at around six pm and took two taxi's to Dehli.
The Habitat Centre in the city consists of a labrynth of art galleries including the Museum of Contemporary Art. We walked through the maze until we reached theart exhibition. It was a show by an artist from the U.S. who lived in Delhi.
Sunil suggested we go to a bar for dinner and a few beers. We took our waiting taxis to the Turquoise Lounge which is a bar and restaurant. The bar was downstairs and there was a DJ playing western music. Above the dance floor was a sign saying "No Stags allowed on the Dance Floor". It took me back to the sixties. They served Fosters beer.
We ate and returned to the village.
As I fell asleep I pondered the day and the incredible journey to come.
two luxury (for Delhi) taxis took us into Delhi, waited at every stop and took us home. It cost 800 rupees. About 24 bucks.

permalink written by  Eric Broome on November 4, 2006 from Delhi, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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Journey to the Himalayas

Delhi, India

On the morning of November 10 we arose at 6am to begin a journey from GAV in Delhi to Dharmsala and McLeod Ganj in the Himalayas about 15 hours drive north of Delhi. It's not quite 500km but the speed limit is 60km all the way. These two villages are very close together and the Dalai Lama lives at Mc Leod Ganj. 400,000 Tibetans sought refuge there when the Chinese invaded Tibet in the 1950's.

The drive took us north from Delhi through two states, Haryanya and The Punjab. Haryanya is one of the poorest states in India and the Punjab is the richest. The contrast, like the country, was breathtaking.

Australian white gums line the highway through the two states..

The Government imported them in the 1940's to beautify the highway. There are hundreds and thousands of them and ofcourse they are constantly reseeding so are multiplying every season. Most of them were 30 feet or more. The vision was surreal.

The difference in the states was evident as we crossed from Haryanya to the Punjab which is the Seikh state. It was cleaner by far and seemed more organised than the previous state.
Our driver pointed out The Golden Temple and said we should visit it. We ended up visiting it on the way back to Gav..

We arrived at Dharmsala at our accomodation at Osho Nisarga Foundation. It was total luxury. Until then we knew nothing about it. We met the owner,Manilum, a lady who was familiar to me. In the room there was a photo of the Bagwan Rajneesh or "Osho" as he was later called. I don't know if anyone remembers this guy but he was that bearded dude who originated from India but set up camp in United States in the US in around the 1950's.
He used to drive around with not one but a fleet of Rolls Royces. He was controversial because of his free sex mandate.

The US tax and police departments investigated. Eventually the police charged him with the attempted murder of his doctor and he was deported back to India. He died before they brought him to trial for other offences. His personal assistant Ma Sheela his personal assistant was in the headlines for a short while after he died.. Then she went to India and maybe Osho Nisarga?
The next morning we met the staff.
They were pleasant.
We just did our own thing.

We had planned that day to drive to Mcleod Ganj.
The drive was up into the hills.
High mountains that envelope you.
McLeod Ganj is a sacred place.
We found market stalls selling beautiful gems and clothing for a very cheap price.
That afternoon we visited the Buddhist Temple and witnessed a ceromony by the buddhist monks.
It was a burning ritual and monks played old intruments made from human thigh bone and large shells.
The next day we visited Norbulingka in the Kangra district east of Dharmsala which is an art school that teaches its Tibetan students ancient tibetan arts practices in Sculpture, painting and textiles.
Ancient Tibetan art is extaordinarily detailed.
The students practice Like a devoted monk.

One student I spoke to said he began his course at 15 years of age and spent 6 years as a student. He is now a professional and continues to work and paint at Norbulingka.
Tomorrow we head back to Delhi.

permalink written by  Eric Broome on November 16, 2006 from Delhi, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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Back to Delhi via Amritsar

Amritsar, India

We left McLeod Ganj the next morning and made our way to the holy city of Amritsar in the Punjab state to see the Golden Temple.
We arrived in Amritsar at 5pm and searched for a hotel. We found a five star for 500 rps (10 bucks) per night. We checked in and took an auto rickshaw to the temple.

It is a monolith. We deposit our shoes, don head coverings and wash our hands and feet before entering the main gate. The temple sits in a lake surrounded by an impressive enclosure. It was an enormous compound. We approached the bridge that crosses the lake to the temple and waited in line while prayers were read over a loud loud speaker. They let a few in at a time and as you move forward towards the temple you bow a few times. I can't describe what it is like to be in a temple made of pure gold. Its one of those things you just have to experience. The following day we made our way back to GAV.

permalink written by  Eric Broome on November 17, 2006 from Amritsar, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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So, you want to travel India

Delhi, India

Here is a blog on how I'm travelling through India as cheaply as possible. Lets start with accomodation. You can get free accomodation at most ashrams in India. It will save you a bomb. For a comprehensive listing on Ashrams in India buy the book. "From here to Nirvana".

In India there are two things I remember. Be clean and take advantage of how much Ican get for so little. If I have to stay in paid accomodation I make sure it is clean. I am not going to get anything acceptable for under 500 rupees which is around 12 bucks a night. For this I get a queen size bed and a shower and toilet. Although some backpackers are OK, most of them can be more expensive than hotels. Walk around and check out a few of the hotels first. Always look at the room before you check in and you should never pay more that 500rps for a good clean room. For that the rooms in each hotel vary greatly but there are lots of hotels and they are all competing against each other so find the best one.

Food can be tricky. If you stay in Ashrams they will feed you for a few rupees a day and sometimes food is exchanged for work. When you first arrive in India avoid food off the street. That is open food vendors that operate on the roadside or in markets. When you first arrive here always head for restaurants that are indoors. You can get a good 3 or 4 course feed for between 3 or 5 dollars AUD if you hunt around. After you get used to the food and youv'e had Delhi Belly you can eat from almost anywhere. Simply be aware of hygiene.

The best way to travel long distances in the cities is by auto (motorised) rickshaw but never forget that you are in India and if 4 bucks seems like a cheap one way auto rickshaw ride chances are it isn't. Cheaper still are the bicycle rickshaws but they only take you short distances. Whatever rickshaw type you take ou have to barter with the drivers. Always approach drivers one by one when you see rickshaws in a line to barter for the best price and even when you are flagging them down don't settle for their "off the top of their head price". Barter with them and if you have no joy find another one. I can get a rickshaw to take me across Delhi (around 20k) wait for me until I've done what I have to do and then take me back to where I started for 230 rps or $6.50 AUD.You have to barter for it though otherwise you can be paying 10 to 15 bucks a pop which might be OK in Sydney but in India you are being so ripped off. Always pay at the end of the journey and remember you are on India pricing which seems so cheap already but in India you do as the Indians do. If you take this advice you will get more rides for your dollar.

I barter In all market stalls in India but its harder to get the price down in an etablished shop. The best way to begin to barter is to know how much you want to spend for the item you are purchasing and don't pay a penny more. . Firstly find out its price then offer less than half the price quoted, then work it out. Doing it this way usually gets me an item for a little bit more than half the quoted or ticketed price. The thing to keep in mind is that the vendor wants to sell but if they can rip you off they will

Technology is the most expensive thing in India. They pay 100 bucks more for an Ipod than we do. All other types of products are as cheap as chips apart from some special items.

permalink written by  Eric Broome on November 26, 2006 from Delhi, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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Poomla and Babar

Delhi, India

Let me introduce you to my housekeeper, Poomla. She is a single mum with four kids and rents a room with a shared bathroom in a house near Ghitorni. Her family eat and sleep in this room. She is assigned to clean just about everywhere I tread only a few minutes after I've trodden it. She also cleans my studio every morning before I start work. She doesn't speak English but somehow we communicate and have a laugh now and again. I don't know when she ever sees her kids. She puts in 12 to 14 hours a day of solid work here. She earns around 2500 rps (around 70 dollars)a month which is not good money if you are single in India and particularly worse if you've got four kids.
She calls me Babar (lion) and scolds me if I make too much mess.
The other day we had a moment. I'd just come back from shopping for supplies and I brought Poomla a packet of Tim Tams. I found a store where you can get anything. Vegemite, corn flakes and fructis shampoo etc.
The vegemite is real but the other stuff is made in India under licence and is a poor relation.
I introduced the others to TIm Tams as well and even though they are not quite like the Australian version they were voted the new biscuit choice.
Poomla was overwhelmed to receive her Tim Tams and the next morning she told me that her children loved them. Do you know that her kids have never eaten pasta or drunk cows milk or ever had a chocolate biscuit or even a peice of chocolate.
She cleaned extra well that morning.

As well as her own work, I have discovered that Poomla has an appreciation for abstract painting and is a natural born art critic and curator. I made the discovery this morning when out of the blue she came to my studio and pointed out three of the six paintings I've done.
She was indicating her preference. To the other three she just brushed her hand through the air as a signal to throw them out and start again.

The three she likes are my favourites as well.

permalink written by  Eric Broome on December 10, 2006 from Delhi, India
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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Melbourne, Australia

permalink written by  Eric Broome on December 22, 2006 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Journey to the Arts End
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Eric Broome Eric Broome
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I am a fine artist from the mid north coast of NSW, Australia. I work with different media including photography, painting drawing and. For me, art making is about the process. My work is abstract style. It is included in collections and has been shown world wide. I have also made site specific...

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