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.

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