NAGNATA director and photographer Hannah shares photographs and experiences her from recent travels to Papua New Guinea and India with Almost Real for My Wild Unknown.
'Travel for me helps to enrich my understanding of the world, challenges my values and opens my eyes to a more truthful reality or existence so I can learn the true meaning of gratitude.
My background is in printmaking and textile design and this plays a big part of what fuels my passion for adventure; finding myself wanting explore the source of my inspiration and meet the people behind the creation. I felt stale in Sydney. I needed to get out and see things with my own eyes. Visit weavers, block printers, natural dye facilities, see tribes and primitive cultures and stimulate my mind with new energy.
I have spent the last six weeks travelling Papua New Guinea and India. My primary focus for Papua New Guinea was the Goroka Show, a three day cultural festival in the Eastern Highlands. Here we stayed in an alternative technology facility, which was easily one of the most inspiring experiences. All power is generated from solar, hydro and wind. This facility has created jobs and opportunities for over one hundred Papua New Guineans as well as improved sanitation and living conditions across not only Papua New Guinea but also the whole of the South Pacific. Set amongst the forest, it was our sanctuary away from the wild energy of the Goroka Show.
In its 58th year of concession, the country is also celebrating its 40th year of Independence. Understandably, spirits were high and the Goroka show was mind blowing! Over one hundred tribes from all provinces gathered in a celebration of colour, rituals and sing-sings, embracing their identity. It was one of the richest displays of cultural diversity I have ever experienced and an adventure I will never forget.
Sensing these feelings of a strong nation, with hope and joy for their future, was for me unforgettable, especially after having spent time travelling around PNG and seeing first-hand the poverty and hardship they have struggled with for so long. In Port Moresby, for example, we lived in a compound, were escorted everywhere by guards and was not able to walk around at night, let alone to the yacht club next door. Confronting and overwhelming to say the least.India was planned as a work and travel journey with my sister. I have recently become a partner in her label NAGNATA, an ethical and sustainable premium yoga and lifestyle label, and we were due back in India to work on a new collection of bags and some other upcoming projects for the brand and also to explore and collaborate with new artisans on future fashion and lifestyle projects.
This trip was about getting off the beaten track to the remote villages from where our initial sourced textiles originated. This desire for the unknown found us in some pretty wild places. My favourite was down in the Kutch region, below the Pakistan border in Gujarat. A bus ride into what felt like literally the middle of nowhere opened the roads to an even more unforgettable experience.
We were lucky enough to be put in touch with a local through one of our textile affiliates and the three of us hit the dusty plains of the White Desert and along the bumpy road towards the Banni Villages. These villages are commonly frequented on the more commercial textile tours so we wanted to venture deeper into the more primitive areas. After an hour back on what could almost not be considered a road, passing a true nomadic Rabari tribe with camel and family in tow (quite a rare moment), we ended up at a Jat tribe. So remote a place that the smallest little boy screamed when he saw my face – petrified, in absolute terror, he ran off crying to his mother. The tribes people found this hilarious.
We knew we had reached something so sacred when the children had never seen white people before. We sat in a tiny mud hut pretty much on display for the entire village, who crammed in to look at us and just smile. It was one of those totally bizarre but beautiful moments I will never forget.'
I could go on and on for days about all the adventures and amazing times I’ve had. But what resonates with me most are the reflections on my own life provoked by these experiences, which is why I love to travel. My eyes witnessed a lot of poverty, lack of hygiene and communities living with next to nothing. You can’t help but then consider your own existence.
Travel for me is about learning to be grateful, to live with less and hold on to the values I have felt most present throughout my time away. To now be able to translate these values through our work at NAGNATA, by working with and supporting the villages and their artisans, is something very special.