Gillian came to live in Auroville in 1977, Auroville is in rural Tamil Nadu on the south east coast of India. It is a Universal city under construction, which was supported and launched by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister, in 1968. Attracted to its high goals of Human unity and the transformation of the exisiting human condition she has spent over 30 years working with the local village women from the villages surrounding Auroville, creating beautiful products made from glass Beads.
As an artist, simply doing business has never been the driving force behind her creations. It is more the creative process that embodies, quality, color and a unique sense of design. Over the years, working with the women she became deeply concerned that the living conditions in their villages were totally inadequate and undeveloped, with no Sanitation at all. She raised funds to build public toilets, in collaboration with the local leaders, and began to educate the local people on the importance of cleanliness and sanitation ……it’s been a slow process of change but now 20 years later most houses have their own bathrooms.
She has been dynamically involved in the paradigm shift that has happened in India over the past 30 years …..
Bijou was born in 1985 as a creative endeavour to fuse imagination, originality and beauty into hand beaded products and create employment for the local women of the local villages surrounding Auroville The story of the Bijou ladies and the imagination tree is a long one…….set in Auroville, the international township under construction in South India …..it all began over 25 years ago when the young Imagination seedling was planted in the grounds at the beginning of our company – Bijou …..Imagination in beads. It grew and grew into a tall and elegant tree and each year showers its golden flowers down.The Bijou ladies, all from the local rural villages around Auroville one by one came to work at Bijou where we work together with the imagination to create beautiful jewellry in beads. The Bijou workshop is a big open walled building with wide verandhas as the climate is very hot all year around. Everyone receives a retirement pension that Bijou and they also contribute to. It is a government scheme they take when they leave their employment. They also receive a Settlement payment when they leave Bijou.
Auroville has pioneered high quality working enviroments and benefits for the people employed for over 40 years as part of its contribution to Human unity. Its been a long journey of learning tolerance and understanding of each others ways and traditions and then going beyond to the place where we are simply human and free. The result is the creations we produce ……..