It’s been challenging accessing the internet whilst on the road in Nigeria so apologies for the gaps with my posts. I’m about to upload another post on The Yorùbá Blues, but in the meantime and staying with the Nigerian theme I’m sharing details of a wonderful exhibition launching this Saturday 29th April for those of you in London.
The artist Flo Awolaja uses African fabrics to create exciting abstract mosaic compositions “that hark back to West-African traditions of using textiles as a means of commemoration and communication, taking them and placing them in a contemporary setting”. The exhibition is the second part of her previous exhibition Making Stories and Telling Tales (Part I) which I saw at the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park. London and which really was as Flo described a “vibrant celebration reminding us that narrative is not always verbal, and to appreciate the contribution of African and Caribbean communities around the world”.
There’s a great review of her upcoming exhibition by Elise Markham on her wonderfully entitled blog Cinnamon & Brown and for more information on the venue Gida Collective
Flo also has various size fabric artworks for purchase at Gida and can do commissions with specific fabrics and colours. You can contact her directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @Maverikartz.
le designFor those of you in Vancouver, I highly recommend checking out the first solo exhibition of fellow natural dyer Dawn Russell. Dawn has a wonderful organic approach to creating her work. She captures the beauty, colour and texture of nature with photography and sketches which she uses to inspire her very experimental, very exciting pieces, using only natural dye plants and natural fibres.
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!
Click here for more information
Like many textile artists I find enjoyment and inspiration in a diverse range of creative expression including music and graphic illustration. Today I popped into the Victoria and Albert Museum to attend a talk, part of their Art and Existence: African and Asian Diaspora Explored series. These talks feature leading external practitioners and are organised by a wonderful lady Janet Browne, Programme Manager Black Heritage and Culture within the V&A’s Learning Department. Contact Janet at the V & A if you want to be added to her mailing list for future events.
Todays speakers were cultural practitioners Christopher Bateman and Al’ Fingers Newman. Their talk was a celebration of the work of Jamaican newspaper cartoonist Wilfred Limonious, (1949-1999).
In the early 1980s Jamaica gave birth to a new musical style called Dancehall. With its origins in the political turbulence of the late 1970s it became the dominant and powerful musical expression and social commentary of the 1980s and ’90s. “This multimodal African diasporic style is also evident in North American hip-hop and the origins of both can be traced to West African performance modes”. (1)
Graphic designer Wilfred Limonious became one of the primary visual architects of this movement.
What an enjoyable way to spend a sunny London afternoon, the talk included music, photographs and some of Wilfred’s illustrated record sleeves and his vibrant cartoons often featuring voluptuous ladies with very slim men and humorous captions. In Jamaica humour is widely used as a mechanism for dealing with hardship. The talk is accompanied by a touring exhibition and coffee table book In Fine Style: the Dancehall Art of Wilfred Limonious. You can catch the exhibition at the Tabernacle, 35 Powis Square, off Portobello Road, London W11 2AY until Sunday 29th May 2016. The book is out on 16 August 2016 published by One Love Books. I’m pleased to say the talk and exhibition will be touring Jamaica in the future.
(1) Professor Carolyn Cooper’s Encyclopaedia Britannica entry for Dancehall Music
Flowers are deeply embedded within our lives and have been an inspiration to artists for centuries. Flora is a Welsh touring exhibition curated by the Oriel Davies Gallery, supported by Arts Council of Wales. The exhibition celebrates flowers as a powerful contemporary source of inspiration presenting new and existing work by key national and international artists offering a different perspective on the subject of flowers in art.
The exhibition will be at the Oriel Myddin Gallery in Carmarthen, Wales from 19th September 2015 until 31 October 2015. I will be joining the gallery on Friday 25th September at 6pm and Saturday 26th September 2015 from 11am until 3.30pm to talk about my relationship with the plant indigo and to deliver an indigo dye workshop. If you’ve never been to Carmarthen I highly recommend a visit, it’s a lovely historic town with spectacular sunsets. There are at least five galleries within close proximity of the Oriel Myddin and most offer Collectorplan the Arts Council’s interest-free credit scheme for buying art. I will confess to surrendering to temptation a few times! For more information on the Flora exhibition see the gallery website
Through my own textile work I connect with flowers on many different levels, as a source of inspiration but I also use them as natural dyes. I have experimented with many flowing plants to create other colours. Most of you probably know me for my indigo work but the other part of practice relates to stitch. I use hand and free motion embroidery mainly to transform textile waste. So staying with the theme of Flora I thought I would share some images from my fun collaboration with the Salvation Army where I reworked some of their old broken hats and textile waste on my millinery blocks and irons into fascinators adding my signature free motion embroidery florals.
Lots to report after the summer recess, so you will probably see a few posts outside my usual monthly activity. I’ll start properly tomorrow but in the meantime I want to encourage anyone in London to pop along to the postgraduate degree show at Chelsea College of Arts, it finishes at 8pm tomorrow!
Of course I spent most of my time in textile design, enjoying the work inspired by the course’s sustainable design themes which include history, production, natural dyes, textile and environmental waste, techniques, activism and community to name a few.
A lovely conversation with Michelle Njeri Cuthburt. Her show, “the art of carrying ” focussed on Kenyan who carry heavy loads often up to 50 kg on their head, sometimes with a sleeping baby wrapped carefully and tightly in traditional printed fabric on their backs. They use their bodies as transport because they have no other option or because the places they need to get to/from are inaccessible to vehicles. Michelle’s work includes video interviews with some of these ladies, a collection of her designs as posters and exquisite printed silk scarfs. Her work is playful with a bold exciting colour palette. At the same time she is respectful and sensitive of the reality of everyday life for these ladies who continue in their daily toil with an elegant, dignified resilience. You can read more about Michelle at http://theartofcarrying.com
Carmen Machado talked me through the background to her work, an exploration of the washed up debris from UK beaches and her homeland Puerto Rico. She used the waste to experiment with a number of techniques including, heat manipulation and weaving to create her final show pieces, the fabric for two beautiful chairs. You can find out more about her work at https://carmenvmachado.wordpress.com
Alexandra Bissa used traditional weaving patterns from her Greek heritage to inspire her show, developing the designs further into wonderful colourful contemporary tactile designs. http://alexandrabissa.tumblr.com
For more info on the show http://events.arts.ac.uk/event/2015/9/4/Chelsea-Postgraduate-Summer-Show-2015/
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.