Catherine’s Grand Tour of India

  • Published on: 29th January 2016
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An Lanntair’s Project Curator Catherine Maclean sends us her first blog from her research trip to India. This trip is part of Catherine’s work researching the Colin Mackenzie collection. For more info on the project please click here. 

India Blog, January 2016
First few days in back in Delhi was mostly spent with re adjusting to the Delhi very smoggy foggy air! That was indeed a shock to the system once more. In Delhi I was staying with our good friend, one half and the self-professed better half of BLOT ; Gaurav and his lovely wife Vandana.


First port once operational again in Delhi was the INTACH Scholarship office’s; checking in with the scholarship providers and discussing plans for the Mackenzie Collection research in India. I was kindly shown around by Ritika, and introduced to all the departments and team. Most fascinating of all was the conservation labs where they restore artefacts and artworks, painting, sculptures and textile. I’m afraid they didn’t allow any picture’s in there but they were restoring some fascinating pieces.One item which they recently finished restoring was a 6ft x 6ft flag given to a Newab of Punjab by Queen Victoria. All in a days, or 8 months, work in this case!

While in Delhi I also took some time to visit a peaceful and very special place, Bangla Sahib Temple. The perfect place to realign and prepare myself for the journeys ahead.


Spiritually calmed, I then turned my attentions to sustenance and nourishment of a different kind, a light evening Mughal snack we picked up one night. Double portion of dal Mukhani and Roti, mmmmmmmm

Then by the light of a full moon over Delhi it was the BLOT “Trick or Treat Medicine Corner” Wellcome Trust Project Gig. Avi and Gaurav transformed the courtyard of the British Council with their artworks, installation, projections and music.

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And I realised the Last time I saw BLOT perform was at An Lanntair with Iain Morrison!
And then it was on to Jaipur. Up, up and away and out of the Delhi smoggy foggy air and off to the famous Jaipur Literature Festival, if I could just make my way through the crowds…


The festival is held in and around the grounds of Diggi Palace, a beautiful venue for a book festival. The festival programme was impressive with writers and artist from all over the world, it’s not called the biggest celebration of literature in the world for nothing.

And when one has finished a busy day at the palace one needs a car to ride home in …….


Taxi for Maclean …..

From day to day the transport can vary……..

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And then onward on my journey and Mackenzie Quest to the south and Chennai, Mackenzie’s home town and base for the majority of his 38 years in India. Again the transport can vary, this plane looked and felt slightly familiar … Fly Maybe?


Hello Chennai, fresh air, sun, sea, sand and Mackenzie collection!

And another long lost Leoseach Catriona Maciver AKA Studio Tolsta!!

Catriona also works with the beautiful publishers Tara Books, here we are at their offices and Book House in Chennai. As part of the project we are hoping to produce illustrated publications using imagery from the collection as well as traditional Indian art forms in Collaboration with Tara books. We had a good chat about it and the ideas were buzzing so tomorrow I’m off to visit their printing workshops to see the printing process in action…


The to finish the day off we celebrated with a local favourite, South Indian filter coffee, there’s a special technique to cooling the coffee – it’s a bit like a cocktail.


The print workshop where the beautiful Tara books are hand printed.

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Now off to the Oriental Manuscripts Library to see what I can find there……….