The Yorùbá Blues – Introduction

For my 21st birthday, I treated myself to a piece of indigo dyed fabric. It has been washed too many times to count and the dye, although still strong has acquired the beautiful variegated patina of age. Years later I discovered it was a Nigerian Yorùbá indigo dyed textile using a starch resist technique called àdìrẹ ẹlẹ́ko. This fabric provides the initial inspiration for my indigo research and my desire to explore my personal connection with Jamaica’s indigo plantations and Yorùbá indigo textiles.

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This part of my research has been made possible through a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship under the Crafts and Makers category. The award has been made in partnership with the Heritage Crafts Association, the advocacy body for traditional crafts. The fellowship has enabled me to travel to South Western Nigeria to research Yorùbá àdìrẹ ẹlẹ́ko pattern making.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust is the UK’s national memorial to Winston Churchill. Each year the Trust awards Travelling Fellowship grants to UK citizens in a range of fields to enable Churchill Fellows to carry out research projects overseas. These projects are designed to exchange ideas and best practice, and build greater understanding between peoples and different cultures.

My travels start in Lagos and from there I head to Abeokuta, Ibadan, Osogbo, Ogbomosho and Olusun-Ota. I’m meeting indigo dyers, artisans and academics along the route. Please follow my Nigerian travels and keep a look out for talks and workshops when I return to the UK.

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15 thoughts on “The Yorùbá Blues – Introduction

  1. Look forward to following your adventures. I used to live in Nigeria and fell in love with indigo then. I still love it, and with my sister have written a book about the history of indigo in Africa to America. Hope you can find a copy as your adventures are paralleled in the book. Indigo Quilts of the Poos Collection has lots of antique quilts, but about half the book is how indigo traveled from Africa to the Caribbean to the continental US. Happy travels.

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  2. Wonderful that you are actually at the source at last. May you have a great creative experience.

    All the best

    Marguerite

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  3. My Nigerian partner died in Sept 2015. He was an anthropologist born in Warri. It was such a joy to read about your trip and look forward to hearing of your workshops in Britain.
    Best wishes

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    • I am very sorry to hear about your partner Lesley. I am so pleased you will be following this journey. This afternoon I was invited to an exhibition celebrating International Women’s Day and Nigeria’s female artists. I spoke to many of the artists and will write about that tomorrow. With very best wishes.

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  4. lulu! mi suh excited fi yuh…
    i wish you all the connections, information, grounding you could ever want from this trip. looking forward to hearing as yuh guh tru xx

    Liked by 1 person

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