Last month I was in the Kensington area of London with about 40 minutes to spare between appointments. What better place to visit than the Victoria and Albert Museum. There just happened to be an exhibition of natural dyeing in the Japanese Gallery with displays relating to one man’s search for lost techniques.
Videos not only showed some of the dyeing processes but also explained about some of the ceremonies that related to the practice – including the making of dyed paper flowers (see below).
Sadly the display has gone now and my images do not do it justice, but it just shows how even a half hour visit can be quite inspiring.
Spending a few days adding a little minimal stitching to (hopefully) enhance my large Shibori piece. Proving a pain in more than one way as I’m suffering with a really painful thumb joint which makes pulling the needle through excruciating so it’s been going very slowly. Hoping I’ve finished but looking at the pic just wondering if I need more.
Ready and waiting for collection
Students on my workshop [Jenny Leslie] worked very hard yesterday. We used 3 natural dyes, brasil wood, buckthorn bark and woad.
Oceania, is one of the current exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London (continues until 10 December 2018). This is a personal reflection of some of the issues and objects I found particularly interesting but especially those linked to textile art.
On entering the gallery you are confronted by an enormous blue cloth – stitched and slashed – made by the artist Kiko Moana of New Zealand. It seemed to me the perfect illustration for an exhibition that was considering the art and cultures of a region both connected and divided by water. As a modern work it was also a reminder that this is not about an art and culture from the past – this was an exploration of Oceania throughout its history.
The second art work was a film, Tell Them, by Kathy Jetnil-Kijna. It begins with a description of a piece of jewellery, leads to a discussion about Marshall Island and its people, and ends with their fears for the future. It was about the links between cultures. It was a reminder that actions in one part of the world impacts on others.
The exhibition continues with a vast array of items – canoes, figures, musical instruments, navigational charts each one telling just a little about a vast array of diverse communities. There were also plenty of textile items. There were many pieces of bark cloth but also pieces of patchwork. The relevance of Samoan fine mat was fascinating in that these precious items were also used in ceremonies of reconciliation.
In addition there were several pieces of jewellery.
Have a look at the link below and even if you can’t get to see the exhibition there is a good video showing many of the amazing banners.
What a lovely way to spend my Saturday this autumnal weekend, learning about dyeing using leaves.
This image is a detail from some silk velvet fabric that I used for one of the samples, showing some of the subtle colours that can be achieved, as well as more dramatic ones.
Jenny expertly guided us through some variations of this fascinating natural dyeing method, and we produced several samples with a range of effects.
I felt totally immersed (no pun intended) in this workshop, and spent much of Sunday thinking how I’ll be using what I’ve just learned in my current project. For the Power of Stitch, EAST’s 2019 exhibition theme, I’m focusing on Caister, on the Norfolk coast, and I think I may have just found the perfect North Sea muddy blue, courtesy of Jenny and some purple carrots … watch this space!
Kay Mullenger, October 2018
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.