Pippa Small on the restorative powers of village life
Ethical jeweller and lifelong wanderer Pippa Small talks about why a tiny village in India is where she finds both inspiration and tranquility and why it is important to go out into the world…
A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to escape the world, to be inspired, to contemplate and create. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
There is a small, sleepy village about two hours outside Jaipur called Samode, filled with shady banyan trees, carved old stone houses in faded desert hues and leaping monkeys flying across the rooftops. At dusk, the sky fills with kites and old ladies bring in the herds of mottled long-eared goats and donkeys from their day of grazing in the nearby hills.
In this village is a beautiful old palace to stay full of courtyards and stairs and painted halls depicting the gods and goddess, parrots and peacocks in all shades of blue. There is a room made of tiny fragments of mirrors which would have been home to the ladies of the palace – the mirrors play and reflect the light in mysterious ways.
Can you explain why it is so special to you?
It is special because it is part of old rural India, where life rotates quietly around the seasons and the harvests, the animals and land. Old men sit and discuss life under the spreading banyan trees, there are families making bangles to sell and at dusk the village is filled with quiet light and the sounds of the slapping of chapatis and preparing the evening meal. It is a slower gentle pace that is very peaceful to wander around in, sitting and sharing a chat and a tea with villagers or going out walking in the rocky hills and discovering busy bird life and mountaintop temples to the Sun god Suriya. I find village life everywhere fascinating, seeing how life is in a small community. I love taking my children there where it is safe and they can get a sense of a different kind of life.
Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape from the hustle and bustle of life?
It is a privilege to have somewhere to escape the hustle of life. I find my thoughts become clearer and I feel inspired. Being in any way close to nature where the weather and elements, the hills and sky all are so present and that feeling of elemental ancientness is profoundly restoring.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
I listen to all kinds of music from around the world, from Sufi to Arabic, West African to Latin but often I work in silence as that way I focus and concentrate most clearly.
What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
I find being anywhere there is a strong presence of nature a perfect escape. Being surrounded by birdsong, wildlife and plant life without human interference is the greatest luxury and escape. There is a restoration of a sense of connection to the earth and everything seems to make sense again. Walking and horseback riding are other things that complete my happiness.
Is it private to you or do you let other people visit?
I usually travel on my own or with my twins Mac and Madu who are five now but have been coming to India since they were a few months old. Our nanny comes too as I am working, and I love showing close friends my world in India or anywhere where I work. The artisans I work with love meeting family and friends, it helps break down barriers. Children are wonderful at bonding people too, I love showing my children the world, full of such beauty and astonishing sites, I think it can’t help but enlarge their lives.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My mother was wonderfully encouraging at pushing us children to follow our dreams and our hearts and encouraged us to go out to explore the world. I am very grateful for the wings she gave me.