The Working Traveller - Part 1 - John Gillow

Recorded at the 2007 Maiwa Textile Symposium on October 17, 2007

"I sought to see the amazing as normal, and the daily as unique, and in that swirling paradox I found the joy of travel." Mary Poxon

How does one become a working traveller? This workshop was organized for those thinking of setting up a business or changing an existing business, those interested in travel documentary, or are you just keen to know how one organizes and executes a successful journey through unknown territory.

Join Charllotte Kwon (owner of Maiwa Handprints and documentary filmmaker), John Gillow (author and textile collector/trader), and Noorjehan Bilgrami (designer, author, and owner of Koel) as they present a variety of approaches to both travel and travel documentation. The day will open with formal presentations but will have a relaxed, open format.

The workshop was an excellent opportunity to interview these three remarkable individuals in an intimate setting about working with craft groups, about travel, and about new approaches to ethical business practices. Participants were encouraged to bring detailed questions or to raise specific topics for discussion.

The Podcasts excerpts consists of four parts:

Part One - John GIllow
Part Two - Noorjehan Bilgrammi
Part Three - Charllotte Kwon
Part Four - Question and Answer 

“A turn and we stand in the heart of things.” – Robert Browning

Speaker Biographies

Noorjehan Bilgrami

Noorjehan is an artist, textile designer, and researcher. Her interest in traditional crafts led to the establishment of Koel, a workshop that pioneered the revival of hand blockprinted fabrics in Pakistan. She was one of the founders of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and its first Executive Director.

Years of research into ajrak, a traditional Sindhi textile, led to the publication Sindh jo Ajrak and later to the making of the documentary Sun, Fire, River, Ajrak – Cloth from the Soil of Sindh.

Handloom weaving and natural dyes are also major interests, and Noorjehan curated the exhibition Tana Bana: The Woven Soul of Pakistan in collaboration with Jonathan Mark Kenoyer of the University of Madison, Wisconsin.

Noorjehan is also presenting: Textiles from the Islamic World and The Indus Runs Through It: Textile Arts of Pakistan.


Charllotte Kwon

Charllotte Kwon is the owner of Maiwa Handprints Ltd., Director of the Maiwa Foundation, author, and documentary filmmaker. A highly energized and dynamic presence, Charllotte travels to India three times each year with additional trips to other countries to supplement her ongoing natural dye and textile research.


  • Through the Eye of a Needle: Stories from an Indian Desert
  • A Quiet Manifesto for the Preservation of Craft
  • Koekboya (co-author with Harald Böhmer)
  • See Maiwa Productions for Charllotte’s documentaries

Charllotte is also presenting Waiting for the Monsoon: Slow Clothes in India and teaching the Natural Dyes workshop.

John Gillow

John Gillow’s passion for stunning embroideries and woven fabrics has given him a unique understanding of the role of textiles in the world. He is a traveller, writer, lecturer, and textile collector who has been tracking down outstanding textiles for the past 30 years. He spends a large part of each year travelling and furthering his knowledge of both peoples and techniques, often finding his way through remote, inhospitable, and war-ravaged countries.

His relaxed hands-on lectures and trunk shows have intrigued and thrilled audiences of theatre designers, embroiderers, textile collectors, decorators, fibre artists, and scholars on every continent.

John Gillow is also presenting Threads of Time: Afghan and Iranian Textiles and Textiles from the Islamic World.

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