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Arabella Ross

Indian charcoal drawings

My Indian coloured collages and charcoals became part of a recycling process; scraps of sari from dusty pavements, newsprint, peeling advertisements from streets of Calcutta, incense stick packets, all add a sense of poignancy. I wanted my work to be suffused with the saturated colours of India, to be informed by it's organic shapes, and imbued with that underlying spirit of mysticism that is the inescapable experience of India.

Tara the elephant. Charcoal. 1993 Tara the elephant. Charcoal. 1993

I have spent some time in India in my most impressionable and formative years.  In 1979 I visited India on a school exchange. I lived, travelled and worked there for a year.  I returned In 1992 to exhibit with The British Council in Calcutta. The exhibition was sponsored by the British High Commission in Calcutta.

During my three months at Arts Acre, a rural village for the Visual Arts outside Calcutta, I  worked with twelve Indian artists. It was the rural areas that fascinated me; the landscape, the mud huts, the animals,- an uncomplicated vision of life.  

On a daily basis I drew and painted constantly, and with a sense of urgency. In my drawings I sought to express an intensity of emotion and experience which included all that I felt and saw through my contact with people.  it was a rich world that I encountered. The saturated colours and organic shapes were all imbued with that underlying spirit of mysticism that is the central and inescapable experience of India.  

One of my Indian charcoal drawings was a Prizewinner in an exhibition at The Royal Overseas League, St James, London. The judges thought I was an Indian artist!  During the private view I sold one of my charcoal drawings to Rebecca Stephens, MBE 1994, who was the first British woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1993. I have since been trekking in the Himalayas with Rebecca who shares my passion for India.