I'm reading
Andrei Jewell is a filmmaker
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Andrei Jewell is a filmmaker
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Andrei Jewell is a filmmaker
Pass it on
Pass it on
"It's great to find your own path because you stay on the edge."
Conversations
1 January 2011

Andrei Jewell is a filmmaker

Interview by Kate Bezar

Kate Bezar on Andrei Jewell

Andrei Jewell is regularly voted one of the world’s top 200 advertising photographers, has been the Director of Photography for films by artists of the calibre of Runa Islam and Isaac Julien (both of whom are Turner Prize finalists), was included in Visionaire’s Sound issue alongside Yoko Ono, Cat Power, David Byrne and has had numerous solo exhibitions … But, it’s his Holiwater Project (www.holiwater.com) that he’s most proud of.

For the past 12 years, Andrei has brought together international artists – filming their music and performance – to give voice to the Ganges River and her plight – one that reflects so vividly that of the Earth’s dwindling fresh water supply. Though he chooses to call a small island off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand home, his mission is a global one, to halt the world’s water crisis from turning into a catastrophe.

This story originally ran in issue #26 of Dumbo Feather

Discussed in this Story

KATE BEZAR: You moved out to New Zealand when you were pretty young, right?

ANDREI JEWELL: From Africa, yeah. My mum’s a Kiwi and we moved from Zimbabwe, to South Africa, to Hawkes Bay … so I grew up in a landscape that was quite dry and rolling. I really enjoyed the light of Hawkes Bay, it’s different to here, on Waiheke Island. Africa and places like India have always drawn me. Those big, sort of continental, places I find quite powerful.

Do you think that’s because you were born in a place like that?

Yeah, I do actually. When I arrived in New Zealand it was very different. Very foreign in some respects – grass you could roll on that didn’t have snakes! That was pretty cool. New Zealand has been great for engendering that really kind of ‘can-do’ attitude, but I have gravitated to these ancient cultures that I find really inspiring.

I need to bridge those. Also, from an early age, I jumped right into a Kapa haka (Maori performing arts) group. I was only one of two or three Pakeha kids in a 40-strong group, but I felt totally at home. We toured and were a really kick-ass Kapa haka group. We stayed on maraes (Maori cultural and community centres) and I learned all about that. It was only later on, in High School, that I sensed the separation that was underlying our suburban culture. Places like India have always pulled me from a cultural and spiritual perspective … and of course the landscape. I’m really interested in how cultures form around landscapes and how people’s psyches are developed by that … so going to places like India and the Himalayas have really been quite a touchstone for me.

Did you go back to Africa regularly?

I haven’t been back. It’s long overdue.

Wow! So what initially drew you to travel to India?

I wanted to spend time with my teacher there. When I was 16, I went to Japan. I was just desperate to go to Asia, for some reason. I had this fantasy that I was going to live in Sri Lanka, or Thailand, in a stilt house and go to school barefoot …

This story originally ran in issue #26 of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #26 of Dumbo Feather

You’ve still got that fantasy!

I do. And making a film was part of the fantasy. I only realised later that I actually put that down in a school journal.

Really?

Yeah, back as an AFS (a non-profit, independent organisation committed to intercultural understanding and peace) exchange student, when I lived in Kyoto, I got really interested in Buddhism because it seemed to offer …

… As a 16 year-old?

Yeah, I was very curious about why people suffered and why we create our own suffering.

That’s extraordinary, for a 16 year-old.

Well, I don’t know. Is it?

Unless, and I haven’t picked up anything yet … but was there an element of suffering in your own upbringing?

Yeah. Though I generally had a great childhood. I noticed a certain level of pain and difficulty around, just normal growing-up things … and family issues. You know, going left when we should go right. It created a lot of disharmony. I saw that in adults generally. Kids are naturally quite joyful, unless there’s something fundamentally upsetting them, so when we start to learn behaviour that seems to be coming from a place of suffering, it is really just the mechanisms of our own identity, or need for identity. So I was interested in why that was. I never really got the answers from the Bible. I respect it as a book and I was interested in spirituality, but it just didn’t seem to have the language, the code, which unlocked answers for me. Then, when I went and lived in Japan, I was asked to stand up in social studies class and talk about my religion. I shocked everyone by saying I didn’t have a religion. I said I came from a Christian family, fundamentally. We were Christian – not Christian fundamentalists (laughs)! The next day, this really cool sociology teacher; he used to slope around in an army jacket and had a goatee and slightly long hair, the bohemian artist type – this was at a very straight High School in Japan; he gave me this little book. It was a black book with gold writing on it. It was in English and issued by the Buddhist Society of Japan. It contained the teachings of the Buddha and it was very plain, very simple. I read it and it totally blew me away. I was like, wow! Then I got really interested in Alan Watts, D.T. Suzuki and Shunryu Suzuki as well, particularly his book – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. It just seemed to create an emptiness around all these thoughts that were tumbling around, as a 16 year-old anyway. From that came a love for India, because that’s where the roots of Buddhism are …

So that’s what drew you there?

Yeah. I had put together this little school mag in Japan. for the 60-odd exchange students from around the world, and one of the questions for each person was, “Where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years’ time?” Of course, I had forgotten all about it, but I found it a little while ago and I’d written, “I want to go to the Himalayas and make a film.” So I don’t know, you kind of have these moments where you make decisions about your life and what you want to do, and it’s part of your game plan.

Whether it’s conscious or not.

My whole thing, when I came back from Japan, was to go to Art School and learn about film, but I didn’t. I ended up working for a photographer, learning multimedia, videography and that sort of stuff.

You learned that while you were on the job, rather than in an institution?

That’s right, for better or worse. Sometimes it’s nice to have the space to be educated and curated around ideas, but some really established artists say

it’s great to find your own path because you stay on the edge,

which is kind of where my perspectives come from.

It doesn’t seem to have hindered you in any way.

Well, I wonder about that sometimes, but you know, I’ve gone in that direction anyway and my work’s been very much informed by what I feel philosophically. It’s about a means, once you have your pole star aligned.

Was it a photographer in Hawkes Bay that you worked for?

Yeah, a guy called Peter Hallett, an old-school commercial photographer who was very generous in curating the creativity I wanted to express in photography and film. It’s those moments in time that you’re given a good push. Then, a few years later I went to India because I wanted to spend time with my spiritual teacher in an Ashram.

How did you find your teacher?

It was actually after I had a serious car accident in Hawkes Bay. When I came out of hospital and my mother said, “There’s a Tibetan Lama in town, a Geshe (a qualified Tibetan Buddhist monk), who’s doing a three-day course. You should go.” I was feeling slightly raw from being in hospital for six weeks, so I went … and through that I met a guy who became a really good friend. I just wanted to meditate every week, to come back to what I had experienced in Japan. I felt I had lost my way a bit. This is about three years later. Through that, I went and hung out with these Rastas – lovely Maori people living on the beach. They were into this teacher Gurumayi, and I got into that.

Buddhist Rastas?

They were actually more like Rasta-yogis (laughs).

Well, the hair’s similar.

Yeah exactly. You know rasta, in Sanskrit, means ‘the way’ or ‘the path’. There’s a very deep link from India into Caribbean culture, where Rastafarianism comes from. It’s quite interesting that whole fusion of Rasta … Jedda – another word for dread is Jedda – that’s what the Sadhus (mystics, yogis, wondering monks) call it – came out of India through the sugar cane workers who were brought into Jamaica. The whole thing with the bushmen, and the tribal element that the African immigrants cottoned on to, came from the Sadhu culture … The smoking of ganga is actually a rite to Shiva. Shiva’s a primordial deity. He’s smeared in ash and the Ganges flows out of his locks. The Ganges is divine, she’s an element and he helped cushion her fall when she came to earth. Her benediction is to emancipate people from their suffering. I always felt it was an interesting cultural icon from the roots of Yoga. What I’ve been studying is Yoga in a classical form. More from a meditation perspective … a spiritual perspective, which came from the tradition of Shiva, although it wasn’t about growing the dreads or smoking ganga or anything like that, but more from the perspective of Kundalini Yoga (the Yoga of awareness). That’s what got me to India, really, and later on really made me fall in love with the landscape.

So you made it there when you were about 19?

No, I went a bit later, when I was about 23, going on 24. I was definitely ready to go when I was about 21. I worked on my photography business, so I could save up. When I got there, I ended up spending a lot time in the Himalayas as well in places like Zanskar and Ladakh (in far northern India). They represented old Tibetan cultures that were still relatively pure. They hadn’t been over-run by China, or even the plains of India, though that’s changing rapidly, unfortunately. I was really interested in culture and how the ‘wisdom-cultures’ survived and what made them what they were.

What do you mean by ‘wisdom-cultures’?

Well in Zanskar, for example, one in three men are monks, so every second son …

Poor women!

Well, they get to have several husbands! I wrote an article which was published in Marie Claire which was all about women with several husbands. Some of them said it was fine, some of them said it was really annoying. It was so they didn’t break the land up. Buying and selling land is considered immoral. Just as mining is, as well. They also had this philosophy of happiness – or rather clarity – and I think happiness is an offshoot of that. That’s what I learned anyway. It’s also a very powerful survival mechanism. They live under snow nine months of the year, so it’s very hard. I walked in there during winter, from Ladakh to Zanskar. It’s 120 km on this frozen river, and about minus 20, minus 40 sometimes … really hard.

I realised that the people’s happiness and being congenial and gracious, was fundamental to their survival.

And being content with their lot.

And generous with others, and not taking themselves too seriously. I was just blown away by this child-like quality and I thought, that’s such a rarity.

Do you think they were able to maintain those qualities because they were so separate from ‘civilisation’?

Definitely. They’re building roads in there now and that always brings problems. Convenience seems to always bring complexity.

Is that what you think it boils down to?

I think so, although I’ve come across tribes in Vanuatu that manage to maintain a balance – they appreciate certain things that modernity brings, but they also value what they have already got. They continue to wear their traditional clothing, for example, and not trade with money and things like that. They’re not sucked in by it.

Or seduced by it.

Yeah, sometimes it’s not seduction but imposition, because their resources are wanted. Zanskar didn’t have many resources. It’s just very remote, dry mountain country. The arable land was minimal, so they were left alone and I think that’s what’s beautiful about it. As soon as something’s there that civilisation wants, it will change. That’s where my focus on water came in. It was that idea of the elements. What’s the most fundamental element that will be the bottom line for acquisition and control? Water.

Were you taking photos at that time? Were you filming?

I was, actually. I had an 8mm (camera). I’ve only just dug that film out recently. It’s interesting. I admire the art of photography in itself and it is different from film. The only thing that’s similar is that you use a lens, which puts a frame around something. Film’s always interested me in terms of its continuity. With stills, with photography, I like the idea of working with books, series, or multiples, because then it creates a narrative somewhat.

Do you see yourself primarily as a photographer or a filmmaker, or does the distinction not bother you?

The distinction doesn’t really bother me that much. I’m known more as a photographer, but I see myself more as an artist who works with those mediums, rather than the other way around.

How did you start to make a living as a photographer?

It just sort of took off. I got a few awards early on, and accolades …

Were you deliberately trying to do edgy stuff, or was that just a product of …?

I was really interested in the technical side of photography in terms of how I could work it creatively. I really worked at that. Lighting and composition are big loves of mine. Going beyond that, after those things were figured out, for me it was, “Who am I? How do I fit in the world?” and then, “What do I feel I can give value to?” Content came later. I guess, not having that formal education, it was very much about learning the technical side, so I could come back to actually what was fundamental to me, which is what I experienced in Japan. Later on, through the study of Yoga and spending time in India, I began to work with the language of graphic media and bringing things into that. I’m a bit of a magpie really, when it comes to picking up knowledge. I only find things when I’ve really got an interest for them, but they’ll present themselves. It’s like, “Oh, there’s another piece of the puzzle”, and it gets really exciting.

Then you have that ‘a-ha’ moment and something innovative happens, which seems to come out of nowhere. You know what it’s like when you want to create something and you find the means, somehow? That’s sort of how it happened for me. Looking at the edge is interesting, you know … Like ten years ago, the environment wasn’t that interesting to the general populace. It was all about gender issues and other things. It’s only recently that it’s caught up with itself, with climate change and latterly with the issues of water. Because water is a commodity that’s sought after for corporate control basically, it’s really become the whole tenet behind a lot of what I’ve been doing with The Holiwater Project (a call for immediate, co-operative action to manage water carefully) and working with other artists. The bottom line is that without water, we cannot survive. Without petroleum we can survive somewhat, but without water, we cannot. It’s sort of considered the new ‘blue gold’ in the world economy. It’s only been recently, in the last month, that it’s actually been verified as a human right.

Access to clean drinking water?

Yeah. Which is amazing, considering. We’re finally realising that we’ve got a planet that is a closed system. This is where the whole carbon-tax craze comes into play a little bit. Water will be another element that can be monetised. The fact is, we are. The earth, water and air are fundamentals. It’s a bit crazy. It’s like copywriting every gene that’s in nature. Indigenous people are having their medicines copywrited. It’s this kind of craze. So that’s what I’m interested in, looking at water as an issue. That’s what’s inspired me as an artist I guess.

I feel like art is good, but if it’s not relevant, then it doesn’t have that same sort of power.

Perhaps that’s what inspired you as a publisher as well – the ability to bring something relevant to the conversation about where we are going …

… To help form opinion, to make people think, basically. If you’ve got the opportunity to do that, that’s extraordinarily potent. Tell me how The Holiwater Project evolved?

I had been back in New Zealand shooting a lot of commercial stuff and I was feeling this longing … I hadn’t been back to India for five years, which for me was like not going home for five years. So I went back with a copy of The Artist’s Way for some connections I had through people in India, who were writers and collectors of antiques. I had met them years ago, when I’d done an exhibition in London for the Indian Tourism Board, of work I’d shot in the Himalayas. They introduced me to a guy who was one of the retired secretaries of tourism and he handed me an article from the New Yorker about the Ganges (The Ganges’ Next Life by Alexander Stille, January 1998 edition). I’d told him I was going to visit the Kumbh Mela which is this massive Hindu gathering. At that point, it was about 20 million people, now it’s much bigger. It was up near the mountains near Rishikesh in a place called Haridwar. That’s where The Beatles went and hung out with the Maharishi back in the late ’60s. The Ganges was beautiful there, and there were trees, rocks and all these Sadhus hanging out. I was invited to go to Calcutta to see the Ganges down there, and also to Varanasi, to see it there. Of course when I went there it was just this kind of flowing cesspit. It’s still beautiful in parts, but through the cities it’s just a sewerage outlet, sadly. I’d been reading The Artist’s Way, so I was asking, “What do I want to do with what I’ve got?” I’d been collecting experiences, techniques and wisdom … and being inspired by the teachers of India – wandering Sadhus, monks, seers, sages. There’s this great tradition in India of living off the land very simply, going barefoot and being in these sacred places.

There’s an honouring of nature that needed addressing. The Ganges represented that.

It’s been this wonderful crucible of culture. People have sat down on its banks for thousands of years and got knowledge from this flow. She’s a great muse and of course the water itself has been tremendously healing because it flows through all these herbs in the mountains.

Oh really?

Yeah, they’re unique herbs of the Himalayas which are found in Ayurvedic medicine. She (the Ganges) was taken as medicine, as prasad, as blessed food. I felt like here was something that links to culture, to wisdom, and something that’s necessary in life – water. I felt it was worthy of celebrating. When I got to Banaras (a Hindu university in Varanasi) I ended up meeting this Brahman priest, V.B. Mishra, who had been written about in the New Yorker article. I interviewed him. His temple, which goes right back to Tulsidas (the great Hindu poet, philosopher and composer) in the 15th Century, curates a lot of music. I’d met these Baul (Bengali mystic minstrels) singers, wandering around the Kumbh Mela … and I met them again back in Varanasi. I just put two and two together; wisdom-cultures and the celebration of music; and contemporised it slightly using film and modern techniques. The genesis of the project really wasn’t about pointing fingers at the bad guys, as much as a celebration. I feel like that’s a much more powerful way to deal with issues – to see the light at the end of the tunnel, rather than the darkness. So that’s what the film (which is part of the project) is about, although it does have a sad undercurrent. Actually, just this week I heard the wonderful news that they’ve decided to scrap building more giant dams on the Ganges. There’s been some building higher up, so it’s very fragile and the whole place is quite prone to earthquakes as well, so there’s been some quite strong voices in the wilderness – ex-government engineers who have been protesting and have given reports on why it’s not viable to build more dams. Congruent with that, The Holiwater Project has just become aligned with the International Rivers Organisation, who have been a real watchdog against damming. There’s both practical as well as the poetic side of rivers, and that’s where the whole fusion of art and science has informed the project. We’re interviewing scientists … wonderful people such as Vandana Shiva and Anupam Mishra Tarun Bharat Sangh is an organisation in the desert of Rajasthan, where we did our last show in India. They’re promoting water-harvesting, as well as pushing to stop the damming of the Ganges. Anyway, I found these musicians in Varanasi on World Water Day. The World Water Day ceremony is really a human chain formed along the banks of the river in Varanasi. I had taken some friends of mine who were DJs and musicians – all Kiwis – with me and we gathered a few hundred people the night before, mostly backpackers and travellers, together. We got this old boat, put speakers and a mixing desk on it, and we just had this jam … this spontaneous concert with these Baul musicians. We painted a sign over the boat that said ‘Holiwater’ and sailed up the Ganges. Later on that morning, we called up bFM (radio station) in New Zealand because we had friends who were DJs there, and told them what we were doing. We had Baul musicians broadcasting down the phone during ‘drive time’, it was great. When we came back, so many people said they got so much from it … people I didn’t even know. From there it was just that whole thing of spreading-the-word … using, at that point, radio and telephones. We were using the internet a bit. We were doing this cutting-edge thing, sending mp3 files to musos around the world and getting them to mix them. It was the idea of collaboration, using the network of telecommunications, which sort of links back to the Gaia philosophy, which came out of James Lovelock and latterly Peter Russell’s theories on the Global Brain. It’s the idea that rivers are like the arteries of a body and the neural pathways, which have been created recently by human beings, are the internet and telecommunications. It’s about looking at the Earth as a living system, and music as this vibratory language that cuts through into the cells of our body. These classical musicians we discovered in Varanasi come from a very old family lineage, dating back 15 generations. Their whole technique is around working with the body as a map. Notes are played in a certain way, to evoke a reaction in your experience. So ragas [melodies] are played at certain times of the day that are appropriate to that energy, or that mood. We connected with people like Tom Bailey from the Thompson Twins, a producer called Youth, and Alex Paterson from The Orb, and we just started this crazy collaborative process which was very ad hoc. It was starting with an idea and then finding the form.

How many years ago was this?

That was 2000 – it kind of rolled on from there. We went on to Splore Festival back here (in New Zealand), and latterly WOMAD. The last show we did, as I said, was in Rajasthan, India for the Jaipur Heritage Festival, in a beautiful old fort. We projected images of the Ganges and the sacred lakes, like Pushkar, around the walls of this nearly-empty 17th Century reservoir. The idea was to reinvigorate this water-space as a temple, or a crucible. We had a lot of media support. We were supporting the local objectives around traditional water-harvesting, because bringing that back is quite important. The Government has built these giant canals into the desert which silt up, bringing mosquitoes and creating a lot of pressure on traditional water plumbing, so it’s not really sustainable. However, the desert people have known how to live with very little for a long time and they know how to harvest water sustainably, which is totally relevant to desert cultures, or cultures on the edges of deserts like Australia and California, for example. Learning to live with little and bioregionalism is totally where it’s at. The Holiwater Project is very much about celebrating the champions, the visionaries, because they’re the ones who are doing the work, which often times is not seen as very interesting, or very sexy. With my background in photography and advertising,

I can perhaps help define the issues in a way that can make them more appealing, or more easily accessed.

When did you think a feature film might be part of the project?

I started off with the idea of making a film, but I wasn’t exactly sure what form it would take. It really only came out about five years ago when my cousin, who lives in Sydney, and I started looking at all my tapes and interviews and realised that the guys – the Baul musicians I’d first met – had a really interesting story. I started to follow them more, and going up the length of the Ganges with them, looking for a missing son became a wonderful way of telling a story. I got together with some film producers and they all said to me, tell a story that moves you emotionally, rather than just facts and figures, or drumming fear into people. It’s really a dramatic piece that gives heart to an issue, rather than just puts a head on it (laughs). I’m more heart than head.

Even though you get lots of ideas, I think the brain is informed by the heart, so when you go back into it, that’s where it comes from … As you’re probably aware.

So you’ve just cut the trailer for it. What’s the plan now? Shopping it around?

Yeah, we’re just shopping it for post-funding. Most of it was done through sheer hard work, and we’ve got friends who’re editors. I’ve spent several trips in Los Angeles talking to people – producers and marketers and things, about what we could create together. I’ve stripped it down and gone for a much simpler film, which is not so concerned with commercial sensibilities. I’m more inspired by filmmakers like [Werner] Herzog than by the processes that go into making …

Big über productions?

Yeah, exactly. It gets rather cumbersome with the money involved.

So this whole time, for ten years, you’ve been to and from India, filming?

Yeah, every year we’d be in India. Sometimes for up to a couple of months. A lot of the process initially, was around making music recordings that we could work with in the studio, and then going back to India and performing. I followed that process as a documentary maker really, and as a creative. The idea was to do an event or an action, and then see what happened around it. With the most recent show in India, we had a lot of interest from television and press – six major news channels – and yet really, what we were doing, was just regurgitating what we’d been learning from the environmentalists looking at the desert. We’d just become flag-wavers, or a bit of a Trojan horse. Journalists love it, anyway. Essentially they’re creatives, so if you can create an interesting story for them, they get into it.

And the rest of the time were you doing commercial work?

Yeah. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, basically (laughs). It’s been challenging, but I enjoy it. It keeps you on your toes. I’m grateful for the work too and I get paid pretty well from it. There’ve been some amazing people I’ve worked with commercially. At the end of the day, you do what you’ve got to do. Sometimes it all feels a bit much, to be honest. Trying to offer something as a piece of media to the world, and also run your life. It’s good. I’ve learned heaps from it. It pushes you. That’s the thing for me. I couldn’t just be comfortable with being a successful artist or commercial artist or whatever, I need to go beyond that. It’s not about what my profession is or what I can achieve, because those are just attributes. That’s the teaching I got in India. How can one really be of service with what one has, and remain true to their heart in the process of doing that, or as true as one can be? That’s a process in itself which draws up so much.

It ended up that the river became this great muse and the project is like the teacher.

Have you felt like the work you’ve been doing in India has fed in to your work commercially, and vice versa?

Absolutely. I always try to let one inform the other. It comes down to a question of definition. There are different disciplines and of course there are certain things I don’t do in the commercial world that inform me as an artist, and vice versa, but the line is quite blurred, to be honest. As you get more into your process, that line becomes increasingly blurred. In a sense, what inspires you can be one and the same thing. Of course, now the commercial world is much more influenced by the environment. Ten years ago it was like, “Nice idea, but you know, we’ve got to get on and sell these cars.” Now they want to put polar bears with cars to show how green they are. It’s kind of ridiculous and you’ve got to question that whole angle, but in essence it’s interesting how the fringe is now informing the mainstream. That is where I’ve always felt like art has relevance. It’s informing society about where it’s going to go. Of course you just try and do your bit if you’re responding to your heart. It’s simple. You just gather any tools and there’ve been so many, many people … If you look on the list on the website, the acknowledgments go on and on! People are generous and they want to contribute. I don’t think there are enough forums where they feel like they can easily contribute. I mean, we can join Greenpeace, or do things for Oxfam, which are tremendous …

But there’s a difference between giving ten dollars and actually feeling like you’re giving a bit of yourself – you know, your skills, your talents, your abilities …

Yeah, that’s the idea behind trying to create a conversation that could grow, and really that’s what it’s all about.

Water is a lovely metaphor because we all share it.

It doesn’t have any definitions, or boundaries, or borders, or race, or gender, or politics.

How have you managed all this while living on the edge of the world?

Good question. I think a lot of it’s about being inspired by living on the island.

Have you lived on Waiheke for …

Off and on for the last 12 years. It’s where I really started to feel like I could pull the project together.

What first brought you out here?

Just a need to move out of an urban environment. Something in the community here appealed – there was a conversation going on around things; issues of sustainability, community and spirituality. I think there’s also just a general fruitiness on the island that allowed one to ‘be’ a bit more (laughs). That’s why I’ve really loved going to places like Zanskar, because people just ‘be’. There’s a little less judgement, and I like that. I think that’s what the attraction to these places is. But how to manage it? It’s been a juggle.

Even just to establish and maintain an international reputation as a photographer.

Yeah, it’s difficult. We’re so far away from the markets that I’m working in, which is part of the reason I’m now choosing to live more in Asia than here. And I think it’s time for a change. Perhaps I could be more effective in some way, and lower my carbon footprint and air-miles. All those considerations.

Do you still maintain your Yoga practice?

Definitely. Meditation and the use of mantra and asanas (Yoga positions) are really important to me. I think, essentially, it comes down to how you open up your perspective, establish that perspective and maintain it. It’s an ongoing conversation. I think life is Yoga, really. Doing this process, or this project, is just a form of it. It’s not particularly profound or anything, it’s just that it is a process that has grabbed me … and I wanted to be grabbed, not just sort of be swept away. We live in such a material culture, it lacks a mission statement.

What is the meaning, the mission?

Precisely. I felt like there were visionaries, and scientists, and spiritual teachers who were worthy of hanging out with … so what could I do to make a better book cover for their knowledge? How to make it more accessible? It’s just sharing the goodness, really. That’s really what my raison d’être’s been. Of course, that’s got its own kind of rigour and discipline. One way or another, you kind of figure out how to swim.

Kate Bezar

Kate Bezar started Dumbo Feather—and is a living legend, simple as that. Read all about her and the kernel of an idea that became a magazine.

I want more things that inspire me to...

Dumbo Feather Newsletter

Let’s be friends. We'll tell you all the good stuff.