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Warp painting Australian landscapes

Painting a warp is much more than a mere ‘underpainting” or scaffolding for a cloth. As it becomes entwined in the weave, it forms the ground  and emotion of the textile. It’s an opportunity to express a connection or meaning such as the dyes used in this image.

Teaching a private warp painting workshop last week allowed me to peek into and work with another artist’s ideas. Rosemary is totally inspired by aerial photo images of Lake Eyre in South Australia and it’s catching. After showing me photographic images and paintings of the area we proceeded to choose colourings for the painted warp. Although we only came up with a relatively quick summation, the rich tones of reds, oranges and greyed greens were beautiful. A grey dye mix was added to the colours to emulate the greyed soft tones of our Australian landscape.

Although I love Australian landscape paintings, I tend to look at other sources of life for my weave designs. But this foray into our landscapes has me fired up about its possibilities. Everywhere I look at our landscape I see such secretive and immense detailed beauty. The Australian bush doesn’t yell ‘bright’ or ‘look at me’ but invites a look closer to see  amazing intricacies and colours of a subdued and weathered landscape always renewing itself in some way. It seems laid back and nonchalant yet always awaiting extremes – wet/dry/fire/sun.

Earlier in the year I was introduced to India Flint’s world and perhaps this laid the ground for my mini epithany now. With eco-dyeing you source your surroundings to create a textile that’s directly connected to where you are, where you live and where you exist. Your dyes are part of you and your experiences. I’m also enjoying seeing local weaver and textile artist , Marilyn Rutledge,  building links between eco-dyeing and weave with textiles that directly reflect and contain imprints and colours of our own environment – its plants and trees and something of our community.

Rosemary’s Saori workshop piece focused on the Lake Eyre colours but also the textures and forms of the ground. Coming from a tapestry weaving background you can see this approach in the work photographed above. I love it all. But  if you’re reading this you know the feeling and I’m not revealing anything new.

Colour, form, texture and technique are all ways of expressing our connection and appreciation for our environment and the landscapes that surround us.




3 Comments Post a comment
  1. In Nelson I’m surrounded by India fans but what I worry about is the color-fastness if I were to sell these dyed material.(I haven’t done her class or any other just yet.) Partly due to Maori flax weaving, in terms of including the locale into work, I tend to think more about incorporating local plant material into my pieces, perhaps spinning some of that fiber into wool. I’ve just been thinking about this, but haven’t tried anything. I feel I don’t know enough about fibers to venture into that kind of a “out there” place. Yet.

    November 9, 2012
  2. Meg, Thanks for you comments. I think the eco dyes will fade but you can redo the print/dye process and it adds to the richness of the designs. I like the eco dye/print results and how it draws so directly on the environment but for my own work it probably won’t be the process I’ll follow at all.

    Maori flax weaving is a very direct association of the land and environment and associated skills at processing the fibre and weaving it. I must come to you and see it all first hand! Similar to Indigenous Australian woven basketry, an access and even ownership of the land or the plants to harvest is essential. We could really get into some discussions about this.

    For now I’m using synthetic dye, like paints, to colour warps. And trying to find interesting mixes of colours.

    November 9, 2012
  3. I know that in her book India said to redye our own clothing if it fades, which is fine it it’s my clothes, but I wouldn’t feel it ethical to sell such products. But as you say, recreating colors with synthetic dye is most definitely an option. And this is hearsay but not many Kiwi plants (especially natives) don’t give as vivid colors as Aussie plants – we get a lot of “browns” is what I’ve heard and witnessed, with some lovely grays. Though we do have a lot of gum trees (!!) and some in town have had success with that lovely red.

    Having said all this, I haven’t even tried serious synthetic dyeing; that’s to come next year. I keep saying that every year, but this time for real.

    November 9, 2012

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