Madhura: The Zen of Embroidery

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Madhura’s life journey interwoven with the shimmering colours of embroidery silks

Instead of going to art school – as suggested by my father, then Head of Graphics at Taunton Art School – I went to university to study philosophy but ended up in repertory theatre! Between theatre jobs, I worked as a temporary secretary and eventually ran a lighting business with my boyfriend for rock and roll tours. It was a very male world, and I was surrounded by butch roadies.

Then one day a quiet little inner voice said, “I’ve got to work with colour.”  Well, I thought of painting – sort of flat, and on paper – then I thought of embroidery – colour and texture.  Next day I went out and bought a transfer and some embroidery threads and got started, making up my own colour-ways and stitch combinations. Strange, because I had hated sewing at school.

Madhura - the eternal actress

Madhura - the eternal actress

Madhura s Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Madhura s Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Panky, Mangala and Madhura

Panky, Mangala and Madhura

Panky and Madhura admiring the English border

Panky and Madhura admiring the English border

Mangala visiting Madhura

Mangala visiting Madhura

White embroidery

White embroidery

Zen book on painting

Zen book on painting

Painting over bed

Painting over bed

Poppy

Poppy

Peony

Peony

Silent Day

Silent Day

Lonely Tree

Lonely Tree

Not long after that I became interested in meditation and spiritual philosophy and a year later was on a one-way ticket to India to visit Osho in his ashram in Pune. I had thought I might stay a month or two and then travel on to Australia, or something, but, unsurprisingly, like so many of us, I ended up staying with Osho for five years, working in the Press Office*, and the Theatre Group.

In India I discovered embroidery silks in the most mouth-watering range of shimmering colours, and Chinese embroidery – ‘painting with a needle’ – so wherever I went, travelling round India, meeting the world press, Indira Ghandi, Bernard Levin and Alan Wicker, organising touring craft fairs, and playing Titania in the ashram’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I took a piece of embroidery with me to work on. It was my meditation and kept me grounded.

When the commune moved to America, I did too. I lived on a boat on an island near Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. I cleaned houses to pay the mooring fees and feed me and my cat and was given the most extraordinary opportunities and encouragement to earn a further living from painting, embroidery and interior design. Many clients are still good friends. From a private meditation embroidery became a life-giving source of income.

Eventually, after seventeen years and creeping arthritis, it was time to come home. Here, the adventures and travels over, very much retired, disabled with arthritis, I am a happy hermit. I have time to pursue my love of colour and design, inspired by my love of Japanese art and Chinese and Zen philosophy. I am still looking, learning and experimenting – white-on-white embroidery, colourful appliqué, Japanese brush drawing….

As there are few sannyasin friends in my area, lovely visits are few and far between but I have recently, after much reluctance, acquired some adequate computer skills allowing me to join the sannyasin cyber world (madhuradickeson@hotmail.com). Through Bhagawati, I have become involved with networking about the writing of a book on Laxmi and am now in regular contact with Veetmoha (Tony Kendrew) who is doing the actual writing. Other sannyasin friends I have reconnected with for this project are Garimo and Pratima in Australia and Yogananda in Ireland.

Recently too, I have found an extraordinary website – www.finecellwork.co.uk – about a registered charity that teaches needlework and embroidery to prison inmates and sells their products such as handmade cushion covers, bags, wall-hangings etc. I am so fired up and excited about their work – and the humanity of it all – that in the new year am hoping to get involved by offering designs and whatever help I can.

Two months ago I was asked to ‘show’ some of my embroidery at a Somerset Arts and Crafts exhibition. As a theme I chose to show the process whereby a finished article is produced, starting with the sketches on paper and translating the drawings into stitches so they are hand-drawn, stitch by stitch. The embroideries were well received and one has been ‘traded’ to give as a Christmas present.

I am now toying with stitched paintings (watch this space!).

So, although confined to one small place, unable to get out and about much, I find there is so much to explore and discover and enjoy! Finally Osho’s words are coming through to me: ‘Celebrate aloneness; celebrate your own true space.’

Madhura is happy to be contacted by email at dickesonmadhura (at) gmail (dot) com


*see Krishna Prem’s book: ‘Osho, India and Me: A Tale of Sexual and Spiritual Transformation’ by Jack Allanach / Swami Krishna Prem

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