The Silk Road Gallery is a shop in Sheffield’s Sharrow Vale Road run by Peter Bennion and Kay Wallace. We opened The Silk Road Gallery to showcase the vintage textiles, objects, art and photographs from the lands of The Silk Road that have been an enduring passion for the last 40 years. The Silk Road Gallery connects with the vision of our earlier shops Bringing It All Back Home and Freewheelin’ which opened in 1974 with a water bed, Indian bedspreads and not much more. We grew into a much larger shop, Bringing It All Back Home, which had the character of a Silk Road bazaar inspired by trips to Morocco, Afghanistan and India and the beauty of the unique handmade things we encountered.
We often think of The Silk Road as being a trading and cultural caravan route between Xian and Venice but The Silk Road had many branches, extending down into Indian Ladakh and even the desert towns of Rajasthan.
We’re regular visitors to Ladakh, often called Little Tibet, where the Buddhist culture exists as an extension of the Tibetan plateau. Until China annexed Tibet and closed the border with India in 1949 caravans travelled from Yarkand to Ladakh with wool and salt in exchange for cotton and spices. Ladakh features in many of Peter's photographs in the Gallery. Some of our blogs feature photos and accounts of some of our trekking experiences in Ladakh.
In Rajasthan traders would rest by stepwells providing water and relief from the heat of the dry season. Stepwells are another subject of Peter's photographs, a major passion and an ongoing project! They are subterranean architectural wonders built over the last thousand years to access water in a land where the water table rises and falls dramatically with the monsoon and dry seasons. Today they are mostly neglected, dry, forgotten, unseen, often hard to find and dramatically beautiful.
Karsha Monastery, Zanskar, Ladakh and Neemrana Stepwell in Rajasthan.