It was exactly two years ago that I was last in India, an unforgettable trip where I found myself navigating through great herds of camels, rows of buffalo, and a dizzying array of Indian cattle breeds at the Nagaur Camel Fair in Rajasthan. I’d returned to the Maharaja of Jodphur’s ancestral Thar Desert residence, Ahhichatragarh fort – which translates very exotically into ‘Fort of the Hooded Cobra’. Six months earlier I’d been a guest there of the Maharaja, sponsored to do some paintings of this, and a number of other sumptuous palaces and forts of the royal family around western and central Rajasthan.

The Maharaja’s Courtyard, Nagaur Fort, Rajasthan

I had an exhibition at the fort that February, which was a great success happily – in addition to the fact that I got to spend two weeks in this magical place. I was sketching everyday amongst the livestock, eating fantastic street food that traveling vendors set up in temporary dining strips(the fried puri were particularly addictive…), and communicating enthusiastically – if rudimentarily – with the farmers as they showed off their prize bulls and camels to me – the mutual goodwill went a long way to bridging the communication gulf.

Photo of the camel ‘quarters’, Nagaur Camel Fair, 2011

Back home in Melbourne my first painting was not of the bustling fair at it’s height, which I am keen to depict one day(and certainly to return to!), but a scene of the fair as it was the last few days, still colourful, but eerily quiet, with a single grain merchant heading back home after a busy week. One by one the camel trains slowly disappeared back into the desert, gaudily painted trucks loaded up the cows and buffalo – many off to new homes after successful trades, and the puri sellers and other vendors moved on to the next fair or festival – there’s never one far away in India.

‘After the Fair’ Nagaur, Rajasthan