CIAD Spring Exchange: Clarendon Blues, Explorations in indigo

CLARENDON BLUES (1)I’ve been working on some interesting proposals and have some very exciting news which I’ll share with you soon.
In the meantime I’ve been invited to give a lecture at the next spring exchange of the Costume Institute of the African Diaspora, CIAD which is dedicated to researching the history and culture of clothing and adornment from Africa and the African Diaspora. Their research is disseminated in various forms including the CIAD Exchange lecture series, an exchange of information and ideas over a two hour event, consisting of a one hour lecture followed by networking, discussion and drinks. You can find out more about their research through their website CIAD

My lecture will focus on my ongoing explorations of Yoruba indigo dying practices and my new research of Jamaica’s Georgian indigo plantations.  The event will be held on Friday 8 April 2016 6:30pm – 8:30pm at London College of Fashion, Rootstein Hopkins Space, 20 John Prince’s St, London W1G 0BJ. 5 mins walk from Oxford Circus Tube Station.

Tickets are free but seating in the lecture theatre is limited so booking is essential Book Here


All Blues Night at the William Morris Gallery & Indigo in Paris

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

IMG_5274On 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).


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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.

Sample Book and Events – William Morris Gallery Residency No 7

My sample book of indigo textiles is now on display at the gallery.  I am still experimenting and improvements in the weather have enabled me to achieve much darker blues, more even coverage and explore different indigo recipes.  I will post some photos very soon as I am also working on the printed version of all the samples which will go on display at the gallery in the next few weeks.

Hope you can join me this weekend I am hosting a lovely film, Indigo Textiles amongst the Yoruba, the director Thorolf Lipp has kindly given me permission to show the film to a public audience for free. There will also be some vintage Nigerian textiles on display.  Duncan Clarke from Vintage African Textiles has been very generous in lending them to me for the film screening and post film discussion. His textiles are beautiful examples of the Nigerian Yoruba technique, Adire Eleko, where cassava paste is used to create patterns and resist indigo dye.  You can read about these textiles and see some photos on Duncan’s website and you can find him in Alfie’s Antiques Market, London NW8



Greenwich & Textile Artists – William Morris Gallery Residency No 5

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.

TRAID Sponsorship – Residency at William Morris Gallery No 4

Like most people I’ve been unwell with one thing or another brought on by the cold, damp weather. However my mood has lifted with some fabulous news, TRAID, one of my favourite textile recycling charities will be sponsoring some of the fabrics for my residency. I’ve been a fan and a customer of TRAID for years. I love their funky, fun approach to bringing new life to old fabrics as they say in the UK, ‘Make do and Mend’ or in Jamaica ‘ Tun u hand mek Fashion’.

TRAID is a charity working to stop clothes from being thrown away. They turn clothes waste into funds and resources to reduce the environmental and social impacts of our clothing choices. I appreciate their approach because it is practical, circular and sustainable. They address the problem of clothes waste by tackling disposal, production and consumption. They do this by increasing clothes reuse across the UK reducing waste, carbon emissions and raising awareness amongst consumers. 

They also fund international development projects to improve conditions and working practices in the textile industry. What I like about their approach is that it is bottom up rather than top down, working in true partnership to support suppliers who have identified ways they want to improve their input and lives within the textile supply chain.

Clothes are given to TRAID as cast offs and waste which they transform into high quality stock for their charity shops. They hand sort donations at their London warehouse, selecting stock for their shops based on condition, quality and style. It’s a major process which sees their lovely team sorting, hanging, tagging, pricing and merchandising around 11,000 garments per week to reuse and resell.

Their sponsorship of some of the fabrics for my residency involves the textiles which don’t meet the standards to be sold in their shops. These might be old duvet covers or curtains with holes or stains. However as long as the fibre is natural and the fabric has some life left in it I can do something with it. Watch this space to see how they’re transformed after they are given a makeover in indigo! For more information about this great charity





The Big Draw & Family Day – Residency at William Morris Gallery No 3




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.

Drawing with Indigo – Residency at William Morris Gallery No 2


I will be at the William Morris Gallery this weekend on Saturday 25 October 2014 from 1-4 pm running a FREE family workshop event – “Drawing with Indigo”as part of my residency at the gallery. For me drawing is all about making marks.  This workshop uses stitch and string to resist the natural indigo dye. The marks produced are often unexpected but always beautiful!

The Big Draw working in partnership with the Family Arts Campaign runs  from 1 October to 2 November 2014 across the UK and in twenty other countries. It’s part of the Campaign for Drawing , launched in 2000 by the Guild of St George, a small charity, to commemorate its founder, Victorian writer, philosopher and artist, John Ruskin. The Campaign still upholds Ruskin’s belief that drawing helps us to understand the world and respect it more.  The Big Draw events are for those who love to draw, as well as for those who think they can’t!