Back in Australia, she contacted some well-known Australian artists like Heather Shimmen, Euan Heng, Graham Fransella, Judy Holding, Rae Ganim,Wendy Teakel, Angela Cavalieri, and Kate Durhamand and got them to agree to incorporate their art into carpets that would be woven in Nepal.
Then she came back to Kathmandu and talked to Kiran B Khadgi at the Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS) in Lalitpur, who admits he found the idea of turning art into carpets a bit weird at first.
PICS: BIKRAM RAI
"How can you copy paintings into our carpets?" Khadgi recalls telling Holding, "but we said ok, we'll give it a try."
Holding was impressed with the result, and she organised an exhibition, 'Weaving Art and Change', in Melbourne last year with eight handwoven carpets from Nepal in limited editions of five. Each carpet sold for US$2,900.
"A lot of people like the idea that it was a collaboration with weavers in Nepal, and we could make a substantial donation to the Khumbeswor Technical School," Holding says.
KTS is a founder member of Fair Trade Group Nepal, and this is what convinced Holding to work with the company. "When I visited KST for the first time, I was amazed by the work being done both creatively and socially in Nepal and wanted to help," she explains.
KTS also makes and sells furniture and knitwear, but 40 per cent of sales is from carpets. For Khadgi, the Australian collaboration is a win-win formula for his organisation, which benefits from employment creation and funding for its school and other facilities for employees.
"Best of all," Khadgi adds, "Isabella has made our carpets well-known internationally."