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Golden Dusk
Nagaur Fort, Rajasthan
(watercolour)
34x22cm
Private collection, India
In one of the most sublime weeks of my life I was a guest at the Maharaja of Jodphur’s ancestral home in Central Rajasthan – Nagaur Fort. I spent my time sketching the fortress, which the Maharaja has dedicated many years to restoring, and then back in Melbourne painted a series of scenes of this glorious Rajput oasis. Golden Dusk depicts the imposing main gate, which opens onto a busy square in the centre of town. As the sun lowered the golden light intensified and the stonework glowed earthy amber, while women in sparks of brilliantly coloured sari’s return after visiting the Jain temple within the ramparts.

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The Cameleer
Nagaur Fort, Rajasthan
(watercolour)
40x34cm
The fort’s traditional name is Ahhichatragarh, which translates as ‘Fort of the Hooded Cobra’, and
while the fort’s main gate is classic muscular, defensive, architecture, the palaces within are beautifully decorative – high points in Rajput design. This is an imagined scene, the Fort was empty on my first visit there, but just outside the walls the bustling city thronged with life as all of India does, and I wanted to bring some of that life and colour into the grounds, as it would have been for most of its history.

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The Maharaja’s Court
Nagaur Fort, Rajasthan
(watercolour)
32x55cm
This is a vista of the superb sun- bleached courtyard within the main palace. This time I’ve shown it without people, as I experienced it on my first visit. Note the different colouring of the same buildings in the last painting – this is full, warm, afternoon sun, compared to the cool morning tones in The Cameleer. When I returned six months later there was a wonderful Sufi Music Festival on, a project of the Maharaja, and I displayed this and a dozen or so paintings in the lovely colonnaded portico to the right in my exhibition ‘Scenes from the Hooded Cobra’.

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Encampment
Thar Desert, Rajasthan
(watercolour)
40x62cm
A quiet scene on the edge of the bustling Nagaur Camel Fair, which I visited in February, 2011. I felt so welcomed as I visited the fair, on the outskirts of town, every morning, I’d wander around the encampments sketching and photographing, and was invited many times to sit by a campfire and drink some freshly brewed chai. Chatting was limited by language, but the fellowship was genuine.

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Palace of the Winds, Jaipur
(watercolour)
52x43cm
Perhaps the most celebrated facade in Rajasthan, and one I chose to paint sans people again. It was a joy studying the Mughal lines and arches of this, the Pink Palace, and the way the sun and shadows bounce around the elegant structure.

50x42cm

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Built by Titans
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodphur
(watercolour)
56x45cm
Mehrangarh is the largest castle in Asia, and the name translates as ‘Sun Fort’. I’ve chosen an unusual view, it’s most often shown from a distance towering over the blue city of Jodphur – a scene I’ve sketched, but not yet worked up into a ‘studio’ painting. Here I’ve tried to show the layers of immense fortification you traverse just to get up to the main entrance. I borrowed from a Kipling remark about Mehrangarh for my title – “The work of angels, fairies and giants… built by Titans and coloured by the morning sun… he who walks through it loses sense of being among buildings. It is as though he walked through mountain gorges…”

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Man of Nagaur
(watercolour)
30x22cm
It was my recent trips to India that got me painting people for the first time – proper studies rather than the sketches I’ve filled countless sketchbooks with over the years. This is a watercolour of a man I met in Nagaur, a local farmer, and I’ve also done a series of etching portraits which I’m yet to print.

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