I am a traveller. A collector.
A bowerbird of the exquisite, ephemera and experiences
I’m also an art historian, and a passionate traveller who's discovered that I enjoy the challenge of adaping to new cultures. And I'm happier still, when I can share this exhiliration with others.
I've always collected textiles and tribal artefacts. Religion and culture fascinate me as much as food, and my insatiable appetite for the unusual demands frequent feeding, so I now live between Bali, Morocco, Perth and India – and, since February 2021, the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, where I came for 2 weeks before Covid's curfew struck and I've been here until now, a year later.
Afer a few weeks of the disorientation that must have struck all of us, I settled into life here albeit, with different rhythems for different places. I've lived in Kalutara amongst Buddhists, Kandy, amongst Tamil tea pickers, and now in Negombo, in a mainly Catholic area.
Travel and art define my life. My first travel experience, setting off for India for ten weeks, turned into a year. It set the benchmark for roads less travelled, the exhilaration of heading off without a guidebook and seeing what happened.
I taught school in Kathmandu, sailed the Maldives in a dhow, wandered over a large part of India and Sri Lanka, and eventually returned home - Perth, Western Australia - to finish my studies and get a ‘proper job’ in a medical laboratory, always hoping that these skills would take me back to the Himalaya as a volunteer.
This sensible behaviour wasn’t to last long. A growing interest in the history of art took me first to the British Institute in Florence for a year, thence to the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London for two years, where for my MA I specialised in Early Sienese Art.
After several years in London working in publishing, much more travel, a stint teaching in Portugal and a couple of years living on the Greek island of Hydra, I again headed back to Perth to throw myself wholeheartedly into the world of artists and creativity, setting up a commercial art gallery which I managed with for 18 years – throwing a party for the general party every three weeks as each new exhibition was launched. It was heady, hectic. Never a dull moment!
Every year I returned to India for several weeks, until, discovering a collection of old wooden hand printing blocks in a farmer’s loft near Jaipur lead me to create ‘Woven Cargo’ designs, a creative outlet fuelled by my enduring love of textiles and patterns and history.
Sharing my passion for India evolved into designing small group tours there and since 2007 I've designed and lead my own tours to India, Ethiopia and Morocco.
Meanwhile, ‘Creative Living Retreats’ is an initiative in Bali, Indonesia for annual painting and yoga holidays which I run each winter at Villa Nilaya, a little patch of paradise-by-the-sea in beautiful East Bali which I built 10 years ago.
2020 would have been our 9th consecutive year of retreats but we'll make the most of having to take a break and return in 2022 … more eager than ever to immerse ourselves in the beauty of that environment and the unstinting tutelage of the artists, writers and yogis who come to teach.
WHAT'S HAPPENING THIS YEAR?
In December 2021 I'm presenting a small group tour of Sri Lanka curated from my rich experiences here this year and an art retreat in a secluded luxury resort surrounded by the island's famous natural beauty.
For more information, travel advice and ideas, follow me on social media and subscribe to my Spice Voyager News for early news and offers - my groups are always strictly limited to 12.
In 2022 I will lead two new Sea to Sahara Tours in Morocco
I hope our paths cross sometime soon, do stay in touch via my Spice Voyager News, and stay curious!
Much travel is needed before the raw man is ripened
Idries Shah, Caravan of Dreams