As a former artist in residence at the William Morris Gallery I highly recommend this residency. My tenure at the gallery was so rewarding.
I’ve always been passionate about William Morris’s work after learning about him at school and when I heard about the residency I felt my work with indigo was a good fit. Indigo was Morris’ favourite colour and his extensive work with natural dyes fascinated me. The residency is a perfect opportunity to take his work and use it as a platform for your own ideas.
The exposure from my time as a resident introduced me to different ways to explore my creative practice and I made great contacts. The gallery staff are so supportive they will work with the selected artist(s) to identify specific development needs and can offer curatorial support and support engaging with the local community, but also marketing, fundraising skills, even product development. There’s an artist’s fee and a budget of up to £2000 for associated costs.
It’s also a wonderful space to be situated. I always find something new in their permanent displays, their temporary exhibitions are exciting, the cafe serves very nice coffee and you can take your breaks in Lloyd Park another great source of inspiration. I cannot recommend applying enough!
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On Friday 3rd July 2015 the Slow Textiles Group present a Blue Festival at the Textile Hub. I’ll be giving a talk about my indigo textiles sample book created during my “All Blues” residency at the William Morris Gallery. Tickets are only £20 and if you present a Pecha Kucha on blue it’s half price. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate this wonderful colour and to exchange ideas and creativity. Please can you share with anyone who might be interested. Here are the links for more information and to book tickets.
Blog – BLOG: Blue Food Dining, Blue Textiles Cinema, Blue Pecha Kuchas, Blue Merriment & Blue Pop-Ups chez nous this Friday!
Tickets – http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/textiles-hub-london-first-friday-3rd-july-2015-tickets-15569780633?ref=ebtn
Details from pages of “All Blues” sample book Lucille Junkere 2015
Indigo dyed Corchorus olitorius (Tossa jute) with openwork hand embroidery Lucille Junkere 2015
I have been studying and dyeing with indigo dye for over six years and through that connection became aware of one of the first women to be inducted into the South Carolina business hall of fame. When Eliza Lucas Pinckney moved to South Carolina during the eighteenth century she owned a number of African slaves and used their labour and knowledge of indigo cultivation to help indigo become one of South Carolina’s most lucrative cash crops. Her historic contribution to their agricultural economy was acknowledged in the hall of fame. The fact that she was a slave owner using forced unpaid labour to successfully grow and extract indigo for export is not properly acknowledged in South Carolina.
Her Wikipedia entry reads like a shameless celebration of her life. When I first read it last year there were no references to slavery at all so I corrected that. It took me a while because I used academic research to support my references to slavery and her use of the African expertise of indigo cultivation. I took a screen shot of my contribution but within two days someone removed all the references to slavery. So I put them back, they were removed again, this back and forth went on a while it was as if people were trying to erase history. I continued to change the entry and told a few friends and textile artists who helped monitor the removal of the slavery references, reinstating my additions. Finally some of my references have stayed, albeit edited down to perhaps a sentence, but I am satisfied that some of the truth is documented. When people research indigo I want them to know the truth about this magnificent plant colour.
This is a bit part of the problem in America’s southern states, where is the proper acknowledgement, the recognition of the terrible history and legacy of South Carolina’s past and the origins of its wealth? How can people heal if the uncomfortable truths are not addressed? One of nine people killed in Charleston, South Carolina was an African American paster Reverend Clementa Pinckney. When I saw his last name, I wondered whether his relatives were African slaves who grew indigo for Eliza Lucas Pinckney.
My tenure at the William Morris Gallery, is sadly coming to an end, time to make space for a new artist in residence. Applications are now open with a closing date at the end of June. The E List have written a great article promoting the residency.
For details of the residency are available on the WMG website
On Thursday 4 June 6.30pm until 10.30pm the gallery is hosting a fabulous blues night for their gallery late session. Food and drink will be available and a live blues performance from three-time harmonica player of the year Errol Linton with Adam Blake and Lance Rose. I’ll be giving an indigo dye demonstration upstairs in the learning centre and you can still see my indigo sample book on display in the discovery lounge.
This year La Bibliothèque Forney, Paris hosted a wonderful exhibition – Indigo a Blue Journey curated by Catherine Legrand. The exhibition has now moved down to Musee Bargoin, Clemont Ferrand. Here are some of the highlights.
Indigo is an invisible pigment difficult to dissolve, so preparing the dye vat requires a lot of knowledge in organic chemistry, if not alchemy. Indigo is a blue thread that links Japan to Central America, via southern China, India, the Middle East and Africa. One colour and yet so many shades of blue! Such a variety of clothing, weaving methods, treatment and patterning techniques to transform the dyed thread or cloth into a creative garment. Binding, block printing, resist stitching, embroidering, pleating, applique, beating and quilting. Discovering the world of indigo is well worth the journey. (Extract from exhibition catalogue).
I will be running a summer programme of indigo workshops in various venues around London. Please send your contact details if you would like to receive details of the workshops.
My indigo finally arrived in January, some of it as dried cakes which are really lovely to look at, although you have to grind them first. I’m using the same indigo William Morris worked with, a tropical indigo, indigofera tinctoria because I love the range of blues it gives.
I’ve been testing the indigo on a range of natural fibres including banana, bamboo, tussah silk, Blue Faced Leicester wool, sisal, linen, various cottons, Merino wool, paper, jute, leather and the giant Himalayan nettle from Transrural Trust which is wonderful to work with. http://www.transrural.org/
The dye responds very differently to yarn in comparison to woven fabric. It’s much easier to dye yarn but all have to be thoroughly cleaned first, because the natural oils and any sizing interfere with the colour absorption. I’ve been using a cold water vat based on a traditional recipe which William Morris used which contains iron, ferrous sulphate.
I have tried the urine vat in the past , its very effective and you only need two ingredients indigo and urine but it smells really bad and you need a bit of heat so for those of you wanting to try this yourself I recommend waiting until summer unless you want to heat it up in a pot inside your kitchen!
Although my iron recipe doesn’t need heat I noticed that the colour was still patchy until the weather and temperature improved. As soon as March arrived my blues have become deeper and more even. I haven’t been able to fully experiment with some of the protein fibres including some of the silks and getting lighter shades of blue because its still a too cold and wool, especially doesn’t like the cold water vat because the iron damages the fibres.
There are some fabulous events happening at the gallery over the next few months. I’m looking forward to their WMG after hours event All Blues on 4th June 2015 from 18.30 until 22.30. The gallery is hosting an evening dedicated to the blues, the colour and the music – there will be live blues music and I’ll be there to give you a little taster session in indigo dyeing. Yinka’s exhibition will still be on display and the cafe will be open so it really is well worth making the trip. http://www.wmgallery.org.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/wmg-late-all-blues/calendar/03-2015/start-date/27-03-2015/end-date/27-03-2020
I’ve been having a great time sharing indigo dyeing techniques with talented textile students from Greenwich Community College and their wonderful tutor Michele. We covered loads in our two sessions; the science of the dye vat, how to start it off and maintain it, how to prepare fibre for dyeing, some pattern making techniques including binding, stitching and clamping and we still managed to squeeze it painting with indigo and a tour round the gallery. I am really looking forward to seeing the results of their own indigo experiments.
I’m teaching a few workshops at the gallery. We still have places on the Saturday dyeing workshop 7 March 2015 10.00 – 13.30
This new course is aimed on those with a teaching or workshop facilitation role. We will explore simple techniques and basic equipment needed to produce the three primary colours from the natural dyes favoured by William Morris – indigo (blue) madder (red) and weld (yellow). We will look at how to apply the dyes to creative design and pattern-making and make cross-curricula links with science and the history of the dye and textile industry.
Watch this space for an update on the other gallery indigo events.
A wonderful workshop at the William Morris Gallery two weeks ago, the event was really well organised by the Events & Activities officer, assisted by fabulous, enthusiastic and committed volunteers. All I had to do was set up the natural indigo dye vat, dye the samples created by the young participants and explain the alchemy of the dyeing process to an appreciative and inquisitive audience.