'I'd been to India many times. In 1978 I was invited by the Sarabai family to work there. They're a family of mill owners, who live in a Le Corbusier house in the middle of a Douanier Rousseau garden ...
On the first day I went to the factory where the paper is produced - very thick paper hand-made from heaps of rags. There were several attempts to dye the paper while it was being made; these all proved unsuccessful, because the colour couldn't be controlled. ... I decided to use textile dyes on unsized paper. Many of these were colours indigenous to India, and all quite extraordinary.
Twice a day, in the morning and afternoon, four or six pieces of paper were delivered on zinc plates, covered with muslin. It was an hour and a half from the time they were delivered wet, until the time they dried - two hours at the most. Using brushes and rags I worked quickly. I became excited about the effect of the dyes on the paper, and the rapidity and complexity of the results produced. The dye would spread inside the paper while I was working, and would continue to change and modify even after I'd stopped.
I had to know what I was going to do beforehand because there could be no revision; one could add, up to a point, but once the paper began to dry, nothing could be done. That was that. Of course the paper could be re-wetted, but the same thing doesn't happen, because the pigment is no longer part of the paper-making process.
It was exhausting work. ... It was a great strain because I was remembering images from all my previous trips to India. The subject matter is very straightforward. Many of the pictures were vignettes of things I'd seen, like a concrete wall with garlands of flowers hanging from it; vistas of the sky and horizon; a train crossing the distant landscape, and so on.
They are a kind of anthology of Indian images, and also a sampler of all the different kinds of landscape I use in my paintings, but used in an almost simplistic way.
It was one of the most prolific periods of my life. The more pleased I was with the results, the more worried I became, because the Sarabai's rule was to keep half the finished work. So I did two of every image. Soon I realised the two images were becoming one. In the end when the time came to divide the work I didn't split the pairs. I gave them some, and I kept some.
Once finished, everything was packed and crated. The crate was put on top of the taxi, and we drove out to the airport - but when we arrived, it wasn't there. We went back and looked for it, but it wasn't there. I was told It's just a loss you'll have to accept.
I cried on the way back to London, thinking of one image and then another. Paper was sent from India and dyes were obtained, and ostensibly I was going to do them again, but I knew I never could. A friend said, You mustn't keep this to yourself. But I got awfully tired of telling the same story over and over again. It meant I could never really forget it.
Four months later I had a phone call saying the Bombay police had a parcel of mine, and did I want it? When the parcel arrived in London there were all the works, in perfect condition. Then I thought, maybe it's a pity they'd been found. It took a long time to get readjusted to them.
Aside from the technical aspect I don't think there's much one can say about them. I have always thought of them as the leaves of a book - that they're all one work'
(Howard Hodgkin, quoted in B. Chatwin, op. cit., pp. 51-53).