Project Bly to dedicated to marrying travel with design, shopping the world’s markets—from Bombay to Bukhara, and everywhere in between—curating collections of interesting objects, textiles, art and jewelry. In 2013, Bly traveled to Uzbekistan and inspired by their finds, this piece and collages were created. To view on the site, click here.

 

Collaging Central Asia

I came across Project Bly shortly after the launch. I can't recall exactly, but I know I had followed a link about a marketplace in Mumbai and I was so surprised and in love with what I found. I spotted amorous Bollywood posters, emotive in a beautifully embellished way and laced with just a touch of melancholy. The street photographs immediately brought me back to my time spent in Mumbai, notably, the Kalbadevi Road markets, purposefully wandering in search of an infamous Tiffin Wallah, seller of the brilliant lunch pails. Bly proved, yes, you could be the armchair traveler extraordinaire and be completely transported by an image.

Like many admirers, I’ve gotten the chance to travel with Bly to Ghana and La Paz and revisit India. When I saw our next destination was Uzbekistan, I was literally beside myself with wander envy. I’ve longed to travel to this part of Central Asia, for the people, the textiles, architecture and sense of discovery this slightly obscure locale offers. A few years ago, I spent some time in my fathers’ ethnic motherland, Armenia, learning the language that wasn’t totally foreign to my ear and working with local women in Gyumri, teaching sewing classes. This experience, life changing at best and self questioning at worst (in an existential sort of way, of course!), introduced me to a part of the world that tourists never get to fully experience, rarely wandering from the grid created by travel magazines and brochures.

Since then, I’ve often looked to Central Asia for visual inspiration and Project Bly provided an apt amount after their expedition. In making these collages, I was particularly moved to create something inspired by the Uzbek women, their expressive styling and traditions. I got the sense that these women, sister reminders of the ladies I’d come to know in Armenia, propelled their societies with love and strength. I wanted to pay tribute to them, their market days and the illustrious ikat textiles, an homage to the journey that I look forward to taking one of these days.