Fifteen years ago I was able to travel to The Gambia and visit St James Island as it was then called. In the current political circumstances it seems the right time to show the quilts I made after the trip, As I would like to show support for the memory of all those who were enslaved and those who still are.
Visiting the Island, now called Kunta Kinte Island, was very moving, as it was the place where the Gambian people were kept before they were taken in Slave ships to the UK and then America. As I stood on the beach I found a very small bead, perhaps fallen from the necklace of one of the people, their necklaces were torn off them when they left.
A little history: The Island was captured by the English is 1664 and used then until the abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807. It is now called Kunta Kinte, after a character described in Alex Haley‘s book and TV series Roots, The book states that Kunta Kinte was among 98 slaves that the slave ship Lord Ligonier brought to Annapolis, Maryland in 1767.
I printed the fabric using ‘Break down screen printing’ with brick like shapes applied to the background to represent the ruins of the buildings where the people were kept. There are scraps of fabric sewn on to the Quilts to represent clothing left behind as the ships left.
I have been fascinated by lap wings for about 2 years, in March they have a wonderful flight display called ‘tumbling’ I have been trying to capture this.
Students on my workshop [Jenny Leslie] worked very hard yesterday. We used 3 natural dyes, brasil wood, buckthorn bark and woad.
The ERTF conference last Saturday was right up my street. Alice Fox talked about her work. I really like the way she concentrates on her theme, often the coastline and really develops it, and of course her work is very environmentally friendly. I hope to use ideas from the talk and workshop in my future work for East.
This is my work from the mini workshop, we were all given four pieces of paper and we stitched them together, it was surprising how many different small works we made.
For my work for The Power of Stitch I am trying to depict the power of nature through volcanic activity, so I wanted a bright red. A bright red is not easy to get with natural dyeing, but fermentation dyeing works well with madder.
I put 100 grams of ground madder in a 4 pint plastic bottle and filled nearly to the top with water.
Every day I removed the lid to let any gases out and gave it a good shake. Madder works better in a high PH and fermentation tends to make the dye acidic so after a week I added a teaspoon of slaked lime.
I had a lovely walk first thing this morning, before the heat of the day, I was looking for Queens Anne’s Lace [or wild carrot] and Golden Rod they both grow in the hedge rows. The Queens Anne’s Lace was ready but the Golden Rod was not.
My inspiration for our next East exhibition The Power of Stitch comes from a trip in 2016 to Yellowstone Park USA, from that trip I have got very interested in the Power of Nature and how to interpret it through Stitch. I am sure you will have seen Volcanoes erupting recently, my ideas have morphed into lava flows very hot and cold.
In May I posted pictures on our trip to Morocco and samples and ideas for a textile piece based on the wonderful Islamic tiles there. I was experimenting with natural pigments that can be found in the souks in Marrakesh.
So after 6 months I have finally finished two pieces of work block printed with natural pigments and then stitched in places… I wanted to suggest a gradual disintegrating of these ancient patterns. The top piece is almost twice the size of the second.
Jenny’s experiments with fermentation dyeing.
I think this must be the slowest form of dyeing as it is done cold. I started with weld which wasn’t very successful, but red cabbage has been very exciting.
I chopped up a quarter of a red cabbage very small and put it in a clean plastic milk bottle with the lid on. I shook it 3 times a day and let out the gasses, it was kept in the dark and after 4 days this was the result.
This was quite a startling colour, and so far after a month it hasn’t changed. so then I tried lemon juice, this goes a very pretty pink, but it did tend to rinse out.
Iron water made from [ferrous sulphate] turn the silk blue and does seem colour fast at the moment.
finally I did a black berry leaf print, not such a good result.
I shall have to see how the colour lasts, red cabbage is notoriously good at fading, the idea is that the fermentation will help the colour to stay.
Now I have started 2 more one with buckthorn bark, I have kept the PH high by adding slaked lime, this took much longer about 3 weeks but I am pleased with the red colour.
In April we had a lovely holiday in Morocco, We were in Marrakesh as well as the low Atlas mountains.