You wouldn't know from the smiling faces of these young women in the Jhapa district of eastern Nepal that in many parts of this country, domestic violence, abuse, and trafficking is widespread. But thanks to a project that started more than a decade ago, hope has found a home, and despite great challenges, including a long history of 'tradition,' political strife, and a major earthquake almost a year ago, the Samunnat Nepal Project continues to establish itself on firm ground as a place for women to live safely and thrive creatively. I have known about Samunnat for some time, but it wasn't until I met two of its 'primary' people two years ago that the project really resonated with me.
Wendy Moore is an Australian artist with a deep connection to Nepal; she first trekked there when she was a young girl and has been returning ever since. Kopila Basnet is one of a core group of friends who first planted the seeds for the Samunnat Nepal Project in 2006. Knowing of their work, both as artists and advocates, it was an honour to have them in the room when I presented BTC to an international group of delegates at the first EuroSynergy Polymer Clay Conference In Malta in May 2014.
After the session, we had a chance to talk a little more about how my Colour Cards might one day somehow make their way to the women of Samunnat, to be a part of the Colourful Journey there. At the time, it seemed like a dream...
Earlier this month, that dream came true, and BreakThroughColour has reached a new summit, breaking through in the mountains of Nepal.
Wendy was my 'sherpa,' generously carting a full BTC Colour Card collection from her home in Australia to the Samunnat studio. When power and internet access allowed, she referenced the 'Leap Into Colour!' blog series as a teaching resource, but mostly, it was all about just getting out the cards, everyone working and playing their way through both the Basics and BTC decks. Wendy's first email arrived about a week ago, with photos and words that only captured a little of what she later told me was simply "Wow."
Sharing with you what Wendy and Kopila shared with me, here are some pics and snippets from their first few days with BTC...
"Kopila says she feels like using the cards we are learning a common colour language. Even expressions like dark and light (we talked about value yesterday) had totally different meaning to them. We are playing games with them, moving into colour families, standing in groups of dark value, light value. It really has been like starting from behind scratch though as there seems to have been no basic stuff to go on. No concept of a colour wheel, mixing primaries etc."
"Before I was thinking that colour was just colour. It was just there as it was. Flower colour, grass colour. One day I remember you said to us that green is not just green. There are so many greens and I didn't really know what this meant. Now I know all about the major colours [this is how they translate primary colours] and how you combine them. . . . I love to know how we can change the colours to make them different. It is too good."
more from Wendy:
"Kopila is so excited by it all. They all are. 'Breakthrough' is a very apt name. Tonight we had a conversation about seed beads to match some polymer beads and I realized that thanks to BreakThroughColour, beads will be chosen better. It won't be a case of 'These are red and these are red, so they match.' Kopila said, 'We need a red with a bit of black and more magenta...' Yup. That's what we need! She is great."
Stuck to their workshop walls in wheels, or grouped by Hue on their work tables, in less than a week, the Colour Cards have already become part of the work flow.
Kopila has also posted about their BTC experience on the Samunnat blog. Please be sure to visit their site to learn more about this amazing project and the women it supports. And Wendy adds her thoughts with this post on her blog, After the Monsoon.
BreakThroughColour first found its way into my head as an abstract idea, a way for me to reconcile everything I knew (or thought I knew) about colour into one cohesive system. Then it turned into something real in my hands, as a tool I could share with others to further explore, teach, and use colour in the real world. But I never imagined it would find such a deep place in my heart, connecting me with this special project, this magical place, and these truly beautiful people. For that, I am truly grateful.