I am of French and Guadeloupean origin. I was born in Auroville, beside the banyan tree in front of the Matrimandir, in the camp that was created for it's construction. It was the late '70s, and people from all over the globe had gathered to manifest the "City of the Dawn". They were digging holes, planting trees and laying the foundation of the Matrimandir.
The Matrimandir, or Temple of the Mother, is a spiritual location dedicated to Mirra Alfassa, better known as "The Mother". Auroville is the experimental, intentional and international township in South India built by her followers and those of Sri Aurobindo, her spiritual companion. The Matrimandir site and it's surrounding area was my world as I grew up.
The educational system in Auroville is based on free progress, and it was in this alternative learning environment that I developed.
When I was around 4 or 5 years old, my mother ran the Free Store, an Auroville unit which recycles garments. In that space, amid the bolts of cloth of many colours, I have my earliest recollections of playing with the layering of coloured fabrics. Duna, a friend of my mother, would stitch clothes and bags for me based on the designs and colour combinations that I came up with. About this time, I also started making clothes for my dolls from bits and pieces of cloth.
Later, as a teen and young adult, I couldn't find clothes that suited my sense of style - which was influenced both by the western garments worn by my elegant and feminine mother, and the beautiful Indian saris, textiles and arts that were all around me. So I wound up making my own clothes. I turned a sari from Gokarna into a strapless dress, and hand-stitched beads and semi-precious stones onto a simple scarf to refine it into something beautiful and unique.
Prema F. Isaac