Experiments in madder

During the last couple of weeks I have been doing some research and testing, exploring printing with natural dyes and specifically with madder. What at first seems a fairly simple and straightforward task becomes more challenging as you realise the very many variables at play; different base fabrics, different mordants (and methods of applying mordants), thickeners and additional ingredients added into the mix, finishing and fixing. I can see how it could become all consuming.

The results of my experiments have been varied, many much better than expected but also some spectacular failures. A print that simply disappears is a very sad thing indeed!

If you are interested in madder printing and dyeing you might like to visit Accrington to see ‘Mr Gatty’s Experiment Shed’ as part of the British Textile Biennial.


Dates: 25 & 26th October

Venue: Elmfield Hall, Gatty Park, Accrington

Opening times:

Friday 25th October: On the hour from 10am until 4pm.
Saturday 26th October: On the hour from 10am until 4pm

Entry: Free, no need to book


Mr Gatty’s Experiment Shed

I was recently invited to assist with some work on a fascinating project with my friend and previous collaborator Claire Wellesley-Smith. Claire is an artist whose practice involves community projects involving making and wellbeing. Her current project has been running for two years and is based in Accrington at Elmfield Hall, the former home of an experimental dyer and chemist, Mr F.A. Gatty. The project has developed all kinds of interesting strands of research and making, including growing madder dye plants, which have been used to dye cloth and yarn, and creating a printing press made from a repurposed mangle.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the site with Claire, including what is believed to be Mr Gatty’s experimental dye laboratory. The building is in a state of disrepair and yet there is something so evocative about the cobwebs and the crumbling walls; if only walls could talk…

This autumn Mr Gatty’s Experiment Shed will be reimagined and opened to the public as part of the British Textile Biennial. On the run up to the event I will be working with Claire to help curate the space as an evocation of past and present responses to site, material and colour. As part of this work I have also been researching some aspects of printing and dyeing with madder and looking at historical dye techniques. It’s a really wonderful opportunity to combine my interests in textile research, history, art and practical making. It will be fascinating to see how things come together in the space.

You can read more about Mr Gatty’s Experiment Shed and Claire’s wider work here.


Publication

It was a rather strange feeling to reach the publication day for Poetic Cloth after so many months waiting. A few years ago I would never have dreamt I could write a book. But finally, here it is.

At first it was rather strange seeing a book with my name on it but over the past couple of weeks I am finally starting to ‘own it’! We had a brilliant turn out for the launch of Poetic Cloth at Sunny Bank Mills, and I’d like to say a big thank you for everyone who came along to support me. I feel very lucky to have such a supportive network around me.


some kind words…

Over the past couple of weeks I have received some very kind words about my new book Poetic Cloth. Although it isn’t ‘officially’ released until 22nd August a few have already found their way onto the shelves and through the mail. It’s a strange but humbling sensation to hear that your book has made its way to Australia, Canada, USA… thank you so much for all your lovely comments. As my first book with a major publisher it’s been a daunting thing and so it means so much to hear what you think of it.

Amongst the lovely feedback from folks who follow me on Instagram and Facebook I have also had a  review from well-know textile artist Cas Holmes. You can read her review of Poetic Cloth on the Mr X Stitch website here.

If you are still waiting for your copy, I hope it will be worth the wait. Copies should be in bookshops and mailed out later this week. I will also have some signed copies for sale at my book launch at Sunny Bank Mills on 5th September and my free drop in workshop at Salts Mill bookshop on 7th Sept.


CONSTRUCT exhibition

I was delighted to find out that my work had been selected for the latest exhibition from The 62 Group of Textile Artists, at nearby Sunny Bank Mills Gallery. The exhibition titled ‘CONSTRUCT’ runs 20 July to 15 September 2019 and sees members of the group responding to the theme of construction with diverse approaches to concept, material and method.

Gallery opening times and directions can be found on the gallery website.

Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley, West Yorkshire LS28 5UJ

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