forest sutra

nomad collection | technique mixte
Uttarkashi, India


I am helplessly seduced by
solitude, silence, stillness
but sooner or later
I get horny for creativity.

Wonderingmind Studio: Miriam Louisa Simons, forest sutra, Uttarkashi, India
Sutra is a Sanskrit word that can mean thread, (sew, stitches) or spiritual teachings. Since I was on retreat at the remote Krishnamurti Uttarkashi Retreat at the time, both meanings are relevant to this piece.

Walking in the high Himalayan forest I was enchanted by the pieces of bark that would fall from the trunks of huge trees and lie scattered on the forest floor like small sculptures in their own right.

I had no art materials or equipment with me.  Everything used in this piece was either scavenged from the roadside, under the trees, beside the River Ganges, or bought in the village market.

340 x 900
Stitching, gilding, assemblage
Khadi paper, hessian sackcloth, threads, river stone, old cotton dhoti, recycled cardboard, tree bark*

*Bark from the Chilgoza Pine – Pinus Gerardiana – which is native to the northwestern Himalayas. The fragments in this piece were gathered in forests near Uttarkashi, northwest India. Chilgoza Pine is a cousin of the Lacebark Pine (a native of northeastern and central China) and is also found in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan.

wandering and wondering


The last post, about thigmomorphogenesis and the Gurukala Botanical Sanctuary in Kerala, India, unleashed a host of delicious memories of time spent in India. Time spent teaching, offering workshops, making art – and wandering, absorbing. It prompted me to post a few more items about the joys of being a nomadic artisan.

I’m starting with  a piece from – appropriately – India.  A while back I posted a piece from India titled hand of suttee, and earlier, two pieces from the earthworks series. There are many countries included in the nomad collection and almost 100 works in the collection, so sharing the joy could span a fair few posts. Today’s one features one of my favorite subjects – windows.

An innate curiosity has meant that travel has played a big part in my life. I’m one of those people who are more at-ease on the road than at home. But I don’t travel to paint; it’s rare that works are completed within the context that inspires them.

I travel to absorb, to immerse myself in other languages, beliefs, realities. I spend time in places rather than passing through. This immersion yields surprising impressions – often years later, when I reflect on my visual and written records and feel moved to express some form of synthesis.

For me, the essential impressions seem to need the geographic gap and gestation time in order to surface, and when they do, they often arrive fully formed. I simply assemble them.


Wonderingmind Studio: Miriam Louisa Simons, window - Uttarkashi

window – Uttarkashi
Uttarkashi, India
450 x 1330

painting on silk, card and wood
collage, assemblage
washi, hemp twine, recycled cardboard,
wooden panel, mosquito gauze
acrylic paints, dhoti lengths,
fiber-reactive dyes, wooden window catch

Doors and windows interest me wherever I travel. Perhaps it’s the way they speak of openings, of new and unfamiliar views and perspectives. During a long retreat up in the Himalayan foothills I would often wander along paths that wound through simple rustic villages. The ‘window’ works that were inspired on those walks were pieced together using items scavenged, mostly, from the countryside. The painted silk panels were added upon my return to Bangalore.

nomad collection