Can there be a land that has given more to style than India? I admit I have a bias but it is evident that we in the West and particularly in Britain have long embraced all things Indian.
Melba Levick is the photographer for India Color. She has several other books under her belt… well, almost 50! She specialises in travel, architecture, gardens and design and all of those are featured in this volume to good effect. Melba has the practised eye of one able to get that shot that tells the whole story, that second of expression or movement that conveys so much. The text by Mitchell Crites and Amita Nanji gives context to Melba’s marvellous photographs and elevates this book from a coffee table curio to a sumptuous travelogue.
This isn’t a 21st century phenomenon. This is a love affair that has endured for centuries. Victorian ladies spent chilly evenings swathed in Indian shawls. Indian fabrics were a mainstay at the celebrated Liberty’s store in London, and Indian paintings have adorned many a European wall. It’s that combination of design and colour that has remained traditional and uniquely contemporary.
Shelves stocked with glinting rainbows
India Color is a marvellous showcase for those elements that are familiar yet still exotic. A shop selling nothing but bright bangles carefully arranged by colour giving the impression of shelves stocked with glinting rainbows. Trays of silver armlets which need no precious stones to create a sense of continuity and cultural identity, each piece being of traditional and regional design.
India Color touches on so many aspects of Indian life and all of them are overlaid with brilliance. Toys, mirrors, musical instruments, ceramics, carved stone and wood are all are here in abundance but so are turbans and saris, and the people themselves – they are the most vibrant.
Not many countries decorate the livestock as well as does India. An elephant presents a nice big canvas and looks spectacular with painted ears, head and trunk, and what could be more evocative of the real India. A country successfully reaching for modernity whilst maintaining a grip on all that is amazing from the past. Long may it continue. India Color is just a glimpse of the tapestry and a lovely glimpse at that.
India Color – Spirit, Tradition, and Style
Authors: Mitchell Crites and Amita Nanji
Photography by: Melba Levick
Published by: Chronicle Books
Price: £ 17.99
Travel book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018