You are invited to come on a journey...

Between 2012 and 2014 I took a series of increasingly immersive journeys in Australia, India and Pakistan during which I kept a diary, a scroll that I carried with me, in which I sketched people, animals, and places. Over months I developed the sketches into paintings. I also wrote, recorded, and filmed as I travelled. The outcome of these journeys and peripatetic practice is Australindopak Archive, Scrolls I, II, and III.

Canberra and other ideas

My first journeys were taken on foot around the city of Canberra, the capital of Australia, in 2012. Canberra and Other Ideas diarises my experience of returning to Australia from Pakistan. In Canberra my scroll became the place in which I expressed my sense of alienation in the city where I was born and grew up, and where I now felt a stranger, lost between cultures. I walked every day, drawn to the margins of Lake Burley Griffin and the life I found there. These walks became the sources of imagery in the scroll as I found myself pondering the lost vision of the Burley Griffins, and troubled people I encountered on the shores of the lake whose stories came into the scroll.

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The second scroll, Australind, diarises the time from when I left Canberra to live briefly in Hunchy, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, from where I travelled to India. In India I navigated precincts in Gurgaon and through walking. I followed the path taken by the Scottish painter, William Simpson in 1858 around Old Delhi. I travelled South to Baroda, the city where I had studied. From Baroda I headed east to Bengal, and Kolkata where I made friends who introduced me to its culture, language, and history. In Bengal I oscillated between Kolkata, the small town of Santiniketan, and the tiny village of Naya, where I stayed for five months with a family of artists who practice Patuya Sangit - a tradition of painting and performing scrolls. It was the time of the monsoon, and as water reshaped the environment, so it shaped my journey which slowed down and at times stood still. Returning to Delhi from Bengal, I paused in Kanpur to tread another path taken by Simpson, to a site of massacres during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. I sketched there, beside the quiet waters of the Ganges for a day, before moving on to Delhi to catch a bus to Atari-Wagah border and Pakistan.

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When I reached Pakistan my scroll paper ran out, and I had to begin a third scroll. My idea had been to contain both India and Pakistan journeys on the same scroll, as a way of visually inferring a continuing overland journey however the separation of their stories on different papers struck me, reflecting as it did the nations present relations, and so I went with this 'coincidence with materials', deciding not to join the scrolls. In Lahore I walked and worked in the new scroll for a month before travelling to to Khyber Paktunistan in north west Pakistan where I made paintings about a community whose presence is so old as to be mentioned in the Rig Veda. Time flies, and I return to Lahore where I continued to make paintings about a community of quiltmakers. Six months went by and by the time I was to return to India, the ten metres length of Indopak is nearly full. I left Lahore and travelled back on the bus to Delhi intending to return to Australia. But an unexpected delay kept me in India for two more months during which time the last remaining feet of space in the scroll became my means of recording events until I return to Australia, having been away sixteen months.

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About the Archive

The Australindopak Archive was developed with the assistance of a grant from the School of Art and Design, Australian National University. The virtual tour allowed the integration of digitised scrolls, films, and sound compositions. The films, sound pieces, and scroll paintings comprise the creative outcomes of the research project Towards a Peripatetic Practice: negotiating journey through painting. Click here to watch a film of the exhibition. 

  • Scrolls

    Each scroll was created on 250 gsm watercolour paper. Width of each paper measures 20 cm, with scrolls varying in length. Paintings in the scrolls employ graphite, watercolour, oil, found material, gold, embroidered panels, and paper cut. Techniques employed include in-situ and life sketching, plein-air watercolour painting, In Australind and Indopak some of the paintings emerged as a result of creative collaborations between particular artists and myself. The marbling that enfolds each scroll painting was created prior to their being taken into the field, through a Persian technique known as ebru.

  • Films

    The forty films in the Australindopak Archive document working processes, people who shared their stories with me, and places in which I painted. The purposes of film evolved throughout the project, becoming a means of diarising time spent with people as well as gifts for families I stayed with, such a series of videos documenting the wedding of Patachitra artist Soniya Chitrakar in Australind. Other films became a means of witnessing the circumstances of people who made painting about, such as those about a team of men I met as they worked beneath Howrah Station in Australind, and the family of Safia in Indopak.

  • Sounds

    I recorded sound as I travelled, so that I could listen and be reminded of places and people, and so that I could create compositions to accompany paintings. I recorded environmental sound, conversations, interviews, and also narrated my own journal entries.

  • Virtual Tour

    The virtual tour allows the scrolls to be viewed as continuous panoramas on digital displays, and brings them together with films and sounds through hotspots in an interactive web page.

About the artist

"In Bengal, an artist is understood as one simultaneously living and observing life. This describes my way as nomadic painter, diary keeper, and storyteller. I am drawn to be with others in a multiplicity of cultures, contexts, and situations and my scrolls evolve incrementally as testimonies to their portrayal. I often don’t why I go somewhere. I often wander, losing and finding myself in the primary space of drawing. I paint out and through the journey, grounding uncertainties and processing peculiarities through the rigour of miniature painting. I am an unusual diary keeper in that I share my work as I make it, finding acts of losing and finding self are integral to the work of storytelling."

Michal Glikson's peripatetic practice invokes the archetype of the travelling storyteller. Intuition, serendipity, and the idea of painting as a way of connecting and remembering connection are how she creatively negotiates the anxiety of rootlessness - a key theme in her work. Her practice-led PhD research project explored the creative potential of journeys with focus on Australia, India and Pakistan, and produced the Australindopak Archive. Michal also holds Masters of Visual Arts from MSU, Baroda, degrees in Fine Arts, Politics, and Theatre. Her scrolls have been exhibited in Australia and internationally, and form an expanding body of work as she continues to keep her diary, creating a new scroll each year.

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