Field Notes: A-1 Publishers' Journal de Bord

In September 2016, Jimmy spent a month volunteering in Lesvos and Chios—Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, where refugees from regions of conflict and instability in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia arrive daily in dinghies from Turkey. Numerous efforts were made to better the daily life of displaced communities on the islands, yet the challenges facing refugees left a lasting impression on Jimmy. Through conversations with both those living in and outside the camps, he learned people were frustrated about being stuck in transit.

I am a graphic artist and urban ecologist, Jimmy is a photographer. We met in Bombay in 2016 and realised we were both obsessed with the sea, twerking and compost! We began sailing off the coast of Bombay together in an old Seabird. Back on land, we spent hours in our flat-turned-greenhouse feeding the soil with delicious homemade compost and watching red amaranth seeds sprout.

 After many experiments with growing vegetables and documenting our personal, professional and political interests through photography and writing, we realised it was time to bring these passions together and share them with more people. And so, we started A-1, an itinerant publishing house.

A few months later, we got Foxy, a boat we would sail from France to Greece, our new home and HQ for A-1 Publishers, for now, a not-for-profit floating platform for publications around the themes of landscapes, borders, coastal ecology and geopolitics, formed on the principles of collaboration, knowledge-sharing and eating well.  

We complement our publications with participatory design projects and put forth resources for people and landscapes to share their stories in tangible ways. Each publication is unique—informed by the places we work in and the projects we are part of. Our books refrain from objectifying situations, offering the reader an opportunity to re-engage with their prejudices, assumptions and beliefs.

We spent last winter planning our journey; preparing our boat and ourselves for the navigation from Frontignan in Southern France to Lesvos in the Aegean Sea, where we would begin our first project: Growing in Greece.

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 some shots of jimmy as we prepare the boat in frontignan, france.

some shots of jimmy as we prepare the boat in frontignan, france.


Each day on the water brought forth new challenges. We found ourselves in a sea slowly waking up from the winter—cold, grey rain; tormentous swells; eye-watering winds bringing spring to the Mediterranean basin. Faced with a small spell of storms and gales, we were stuck for almost a week in the heart of Camargue, in the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, watching waves reach into the harbor over the break-water, the gusts whipping tangles into the rigging of our boat. When the weather calmed down, we blessed our journey at the shrine of St. Sarah, patron saint of the Gypsies, before heading onwards to Marseille.  

Sailing gives us the opportunity to observe water, to understand its colours and movements. As the Rhone arrives into the Mediterranean against the near-dystopian industrial background of Fos-sur-Mer, we found the deep azure seawater gently mixing into the milky, mint green of river, creating distinct topographies on a fluid landscape. As we sailed across the Calanques, we found the limestone cliffs moulded by the waves into cavities; here, as the water mixes with the soft rock surfaces, it gently eats away at the land.  

As we moved across steadily towards Italy, the winds often in our favour, we met four days of grey, blinding downpours—fortunately accompanied by our dear friends Ludo and Amelie. We reached San Remo at night, enjoying the warmth, the hints of spring and summer found in wild flowers blossoming along roadsides. We found a beautiful hillside botanic garden, home to an impeccably curated collection of desert plants, and unknowingly invited ourselves to a Brazilian birthday party at tiny first floor cafe in a tall apartment building up a small hill in the city.

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 Sailing gives us the opportunity to observe water.

Sailing gives us the opportunity to observe water.

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Saying goodbye to San Remo and our friends with hands stained in a variety of gelato flavours, we then sailed south across the Mediterranean to the Isola d’Elba, crossing miles of darkness on a windy, moonless night, both of us taking turns sleeping as the other made sure our sails were set right and that we were following the correct path. The morning sunrise welcomed us to the north cape of Corsica in the distance. Reaching the island, we spent a day resting before setting sail towards the western coast of Italy towards Napoli.

Each harbour has its own character and the Isola d’Elba was as peaceful as Napoli was electric. As soon as we reached Napoli, we found ourselves in a mess of motor-boats, towering elegant buildings and hot air, the shrill buzzes of scooters layered over the voices of people in the streets and music from cafes. The city dances and walking its streets, we found ourselves in the midst of a constant party--one that has neither end nor beginning; with an abundance of drinks and music and delicious things to eat. As we sailed, we spoke of the things we missed (often food from India!) and upon arriving to Napoli, stumbled something that was on the top of that very list--a good prawn curry. While we imagined our first meal in Italy after four days at sea to include something more Mediterranean, the Sri Lankan restaurant we found ourselves in was a pleasant surprise.   

After Napoli, we continued south in the Tyrrhenian Sea through the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Reggio Calabria towards Crotone, where we would cross the Ionian Sea into Greece. Reading about the strait before we crossed through, we found stories of whirlpools and legends--Homer writes of Scylla, a six-headed monster waiting to devour sailors and Charybdis, a mythical sea-monster. Whilst we saw and felt the whirlpools, we were more fascinated by the two-headed ferries crossing from Sicily to Italy across the straits, the towering electric pylons that were once the tallest in the world, and the swell that seemed seem to get higher as the wind started to drop just as we passed through the straits.

 Naples (and mt vesuvius) from a distance.

Naples (and mt vesuvius) from a distance.

 entering the harbour.

entering the harbour.

 Instead of going around the corinth canal, we went through. Some might call it a shortcut, we were just in a hurry.

Instead of going around the corinth canal, we went through. Some might call it a shortcut, we were just in a hurry.

We arrived in Greece on the 11 of May, after 42 days of sailing—crossing the Ionian Sea, led by a luminous moon rise laying a path of light across the deep black water. The next morning, dolphins leapt through the waves and the wind blew seafoam and spray onto us. We often remembered the hundreds of people making the same journey in tiny dinghies, mostly finding themselves in detention-centers with endless new barriers. When I think back to the sudden spring storm that marked our arrival to Greece, hot southern winds crashing waves over the boat and onto us, I wonder what it might be like to face these same seas in overcrowded boats, perhaps without knowing how to swim or sail.

The intention of our project was to use gardening as a tool for people to build a relationship with the land they live on regardless of the duration they might be there for. However, this naturally extends to our boat, and for many of our friends here--whether from Pakistan, Cameroon or Iran Kurdistan--sailing and swimming with us is also a time to share their stories about crossing to Lesvos from Turkey, re-discovering the joys of water and the boat in a more positive light. 

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We set up our first garden at One Happy Family, a community centre thirty minutes on foot from Moria, an overcrowded former military base turned camp with 6000 residents. You can read more about our early days in Mytilini, the people we've encountered, our progress in the garden and the need for empowering social spaces over on our journal.

Working on the land together, we are closer to the soil and one another. Sharing a communal experience of gardening, we build bonds with those working around us and the plants we care for. Simultaneously, we reclaim agency over our bodies by understanding the nutrition that our harvest provides us with and the labour we put into cultivating it through the season. Furthermore, the islands are home to diverse groups of people, each with their own recipes, understanding of plants and herbal medicine. Bringing together these skills, flavours and knowledge could lead to a positive new intercultural dialogues.


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A-1 Publishers was founded by Zuri Camille de Souza and Jimmy Granger. Check out their website and follow them on instagram at @a1publishers. Learn more about Growing in Greece.

How to support A1 Publishers:

Order a print from their photo catalogue, all shot in medium-format by Jimmy Granger.

Buy their publications or donate directly to A-1, a registered nonprofit, by getting in touch at


Q&A with Material Immaterial

Coinciding with the London Design Festival this week, Indian Design Platform presents Transformation, an exhibition of objects and installations by contemporary Indian designers whose practises give a second lease of life to unwanted materials.

In curator Arpna Gupta’s words, ‘the exhibition takes inspiration from the culture of recycling and reuse that exists to the extreme in India, exploring the ways in which artists and designers have reinterpreted humble, discarded materials as design objects.’            

We interviewed Nitin Barchha, co-founder and designer at Mumbai-based design studio Material Immaterial whose papier mâché lamps will be on exhibition.



Who makes up Material Immaterial? How did you begin to work with each other?

The Material Immaterial studio was founded by myself and my partner Disney Davis. We met while working together as architects in a studio and then founded our own architectural design practice 'The White Room Studio'. The main motive behind establishing Material Immaterial was to create work that could offer the end user spatial experiences and get them closer to nature through small objects of daily use. The studio aims to go beyond a definitive material or definitive process and aims to focus purely on ideas, limiting the material to be a mere medium of expression.

The studio is built on the basic principles of exploring the bare beauty of materials. As designers we are essentially minimalists and our design approach has always been of what to leave out, rather than what to put in. This reduction process is what takes one through a mirror, emerging out on the other side to discover richness, like in the subtle differences between five shades of grey or in different textures of concrete. Through our work the studio strives to challenge the purpose of material and lets design be at the helm of things.

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What are you exhibiting at Transformation?

The Bell Flower Cloud lamp is ceiling mounted with clusters of bell flowers drooping down, they incorporate the texture the buoyancy and the feeling of lightness.

The Mushroom lamp is inspired by a real mushroom taking form and its intricate texture replicating gills with its stalk. The light is hidden, and only the glow visible once the lamp is fixed onto a wall.

The Trumpet lamp is inspired from the flower Angel's Trumpets. It is suspended from the ceiling and has mirrors inside which reflect and focus the light downwards. The texture on the outer surface is smooth and the texture inside is made rough.



Where do your ideas come from?

For the Organic collection they came from nature, be it mushrooms, mosses, ferns or flowers.

How are your products made?

The products are made from recycled newspapers which is then ground into a pulp mixed with glue and converted into papier mâché.

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What led you to work with papier mâché?

The Organic collection is the first product line from our studio. We used papier mâché as it gives us the flexibility of use and allows us to explore different possibilities of form and texture inspired from nature.

We wanted a material that was lightweight, flexible (so that we could create organic forms) and is inexpensive (raw material). We started experimenting with paper in different forms and eventually landed at papier mâché. This was the only material that had all the qualities that I required and was also easily available.

The first experiment using papier mâché was a pen stand that still stands at my studio. Slowly over time, we perfected the techniques required trying various permutations and combinations. After about two years of continuous experimentation, the resulting papier mâché was exactly what we were looking for.



Name three local designers to keep an eye out for?

Devyani Smith studio pottery
Ajay Shah from ASDS
Aziz Kachwalla from At-Tin

What is good design?

Good design is minimal, aesthetic & forever.


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Photography by LOVER studio for Create Culture.


Transformation is the second edition of Indian Design Platform, an exhibition by Create Culture at The Guardian Gallery, London between 19th and 25th September. More details here.

The Alipore Post x LOVER #2

Art by Rachna Ravi

Love Poem by Tishani Doshi

Ultimately, we will lose each other

to something. I would hope for grand

circumstance —  death or disaster.

But it might not be that way at all.

It might be that you walk out

one morning after making love

to buy cigarettes, and never return,

or I fall in love with another man.

It might be a slow drift into indifference.

Either way, we’ll have to learn

to bear the weight of the eventuality

that we will lose each other to something.

So why not begin now, while your head

rests like a perfect moon in my lap,

and the dogs on the beach are howling?

Why not reach for the seam in this South Indian

night and tear it, just a little, so the falling

can begin? Because later, when we cross

each other on the streets, and are forced

to look away, when we’ve thrown

the disregarded pieces of our togetherness

into bedroom drawers and the smell

of our bodies is disappearing like the sweet

decay of lilies —  what will we call it,

when it’s no longer love?


Recommended Listening: 

Moon Child - The F16s

Then We Go Out - Sky Rabbit (Messiah cover)

In the Footsteps – Sahil Vasudeva

She Sand Sea - Kumail

Hindustani Rascal - MLFNKTION

Mid-2016 Roundup: 10 of India’s best songs so far



Nether Magazine


Keepers of the Sun

How the middle class makes love

India’s Paradise of Street Graphics

When Led Zeppelin visited India




Visit The Alipore Post Offline, a curated weekend pop up in Bangalore this weekend Sept 17th and 18th at The Courtyard House.
See the facebook event for more details. 

For a daily dose of art, poetry, music and interesting links found on the Internet, sign up for The Alipore Post.