Matt Booker is a London based artist, illustrator, and visual communicator. He was part of the first Topolski studio residency in 2013.
These images are part of a larger body of work made during four months spent in India in 2017/2018. During this time I took part in a teaching residency at the International Institute of Fine Art in Modinagar, a suburb in the north of Delhi. Working with three other artists we spent time teaching at the university, running drawing workshops, holding tutorials and overseeing projects with students on painting, foundation, graphic design and fashion courses. We also had time during the week to explore the town, making friends, being invited to people's houses and drawing/ exploring the unfamiliar, exciting and completely welcoming community that we now found ourselves a part of.
We also had time both before and after the residency to travel in other parts of India. I decided to go up to Leh in Kashmir, which at 3500 meters is one of the highest inhabited towns in the world, and with an average winter temperature of -16C, it presented a challenging and unique environment to try and capture through drawing. I also travelled to many other parts of the Himalayan foothills as well as Jaipur, Delhi and Mathura, each presenting new subjects, communities and sights to draw.
Modinagar itself is a bustling, crowded area with markets, schools, factories, farms and residential spaces. We lived right next to a huge sugar factory, 'Modi Sugar' which ran for 24 hours a day and, with the queues of farmers on buffaloes outside, the workers, the sounds and the vast layout of machinery, presented a really interesting site to draw from. I also spent time wandering the markets, shops and neighbourhoods talking to people and drawing from the scenes of daily life. The customs and culture was so different from back in London, it was automatically exciting to get down on paper.
Up in the Himalayas it was a million miles away from the bustle and noise of the city. We were in Leh in December and the average temperature was -16C. It was a sparse and peaceful environment with the stillness and silence that only comes from mountainous regions. The religious influence on the area was immediately apparent with ancient Buddhist monasteries and the sound of the Muslim call to prayer echoing around the valley. It was an enchanting place and this atmosphere was something I was really eager to capture.
The whole trip provided me with a massive amount of first hand research and sketchbooks full of notes and drawings. It left me completely inspired and I will be developing work from the trip for years to come. I would thoroughly recommend a trip to India for anyone seeking inspiration for making work. The richness of the culture, the versatility of regions and the endless opportunities and invites to meet the people and spend time in people's homes can make for a life changing experience. Just make sure to pack some diarrhoea tablets.