Planting Words residency at the Sanskriti Centre in Delhi, 2010

All you need is a library and a garden. (Cicero)

Early in 2010 Jenny Lewis completed a four week residency at the stunningly beautiful Sanskriti Centre in New Delhi, where she and artist, printmaker and bookmaker Frances Kiernan worked with the distinguished poet, and organiser of the Delhi International Literary Festival, Sudeep Sen. Their intention was to explore, through poetry, imagery and visual art, the power of plants and nature to restore balance and heal the body and mind.

While Jenny was away, she sent home a poem from Delhi, originally published in Molossus; she also sent the following pictures from India:

Me with Frances the visual artist and Geeta and Parvinder from Katha School. Geeta tells us thay have helped 98,000 children from deprived areas – plus helping to train their mums so they can continue to support their families.

Tamil Nadu potters who are based here getting ready some of the terra cotta statues to ship to an exhibition in Paris.

The view from my studio window.

Jenny explained: “We will explore the medicinal plants of India and the UK and translate their healing properties into poetry and artworks which will result in an installation – to include words and imagery – at the Sanskriti Centre and other galleries, spaces and gardens.

Children at the Katha School

“During our residency, which runs from December 27 2009 to January 24 2010, we will also be running workshops with the Katha School, Delhi (which provides education for disadvantaged women and children) in writing poetry and in bookmaking – both of which will reflect the plants we are focusing on. The books will be used as part of the exhibition at Sanskriti Centre.

“On our return to the UK we will continue to develop our research. The final work will include limited edition etchings, prints and book art. We anticipate organising a book launch and poetry reading at each of the venues and we would hope to return to India in 2010/2011 to exhibit the results of our collaboration, maybe as part of the Delhi International Literary Festival.

“We were drawn to India as the starting point for our research because of the Ayurvedic tradition and the fact that both our fathers were in India for considerable amounts of time (in Deolali, Jaipur and Mussoorie) during the First and Second World Wars. This adds a personal connection to India which will enable us to explore concepts of history, psychology, heredity and the mysterious and transcendental nature of time.”