Sunday, June 21, 2015


James Lindfield was one of the first few people I got a chance to interact with in Vancouver, outside of my work, when I first moved here. I had chosen to take his class as my first art class as part of a course at the Emily Carr university. Given that all my studies was in India and it was my first experience as a student outside of India, I didn't know what to except (The school had given instructions on what materials and tools to carry so I had all those but that's about it). So there I was on the first day and James seemed like a very kind teacher. After all the introductions and such he got us started on that day's work. And then came a time when I had to answer one of his questions or explain my thought process and I naturally, subconsciously ended the sentence with "sir". He was quite surprised by that and he probably had some idea that students do address their teachers that way so smiled and said "please don't address me as sir, call me James" and I think I said "yes, sir" and he made me say "yes, James" :) 

Hence started my journey as his student. And I have to say that it was an exceptional experience, James was extremely kind, considerate and most of all, very fair, to all his students. He made an exceptional teacher. He made me feel very comfortable, encouraged me and brought the best out of me throughout my course in Emily Carr. He did the same for all his students. I have to give credits to him to what I am able to create today and how I am able to go about it boldly, not having the fear to try and retry.

They say a good teacher opens your mind and touches your heart. And I can tell you now that it's one thing to know it but another to realize it. 
I have always enjoyed drawing and painting, from when I was a child. Thanks to my dad, he encouraged me with this a lot and also many thanks to my teacher Uma during my school says, she made me believe in myself w.r.t my drawing and painting skills. Both these gave me the confidence I needed to continue with it and my inherent desire to always make something new and unique helped me come up with creative works. So the confidence and creativity were covered. But there was one important thing lacking. I was hung up on the perfection bit, I always thought my strength was in being able to do something exactly the way I wanted, no matter how much time it took. It worked well for most parts but without my knowledge it was stopping me from having fun and from being free! This is where James made all the difference, he once told me "You may believe that the God is in perfection, but remember that perfection is also a perception"! And he also said "Ashwini, let it go, you can do much more than what you are able to do now, I can assure you that, just let it go". It took me a while to get used to this but I knew it was true and although I wanted to believe it, it was still very hard to implement it. But then in the end, I did let go. And towards the end of the course, my grade sheets used to have comments like I was never afraid to experiment, I paint fast, furious, wild, I paint very freely. Thank you so much James, for opening my mind, for making me let go and be free!

It amazes me how kind and considerate he was. During that same first class of his I took, he had his exhibition of his roller coaster painting series in a gallery in east van and he had invited us over. Vinay and I had been there to look at his works and he came over and talked to us, introduced us to his wife, and he said that he wants to introduce me to another teacher so it would be great if we can stay until she arrives. So we were hanging out at the gallery and I didn't expect him to remember what he said as he was so busy talking to so many people but to my surprise he come to where we were, and told us that Elizabeth had arrived and he took us to her and introduced me to her. I can't express how touched I was by this act of kindness. And should I add that he also managed to remember that I was vegetarian and say that there were vegetarian sushi as well? 

James passed away on 21st June, 2014, from pneumonia. I was devastated to hear about it, like many of my fellow students and the university staff. Today, it's been an year since the world lost a talented, humble, and kind human being. I wanted to write this today as a tribute to what he was, what he left behind and the difference he made in his students' lives.

Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheshwara
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma Tasmai Shri Gurave Namah