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.

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The Maharaja’s Courtyard, Nagaur Fort, Rajasthan
(watercolour)
40x80cm

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.

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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.

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‘After the Fair’ Nagaur, Rajasthan
(watercolour)
32x50cm