Image: Bogolanfini or mud cloth from Mali, 2021
The Textile Museum of Canada, located in Toronto and the only museum in Canada dedicated solely to exploring the human experience through textiles, is running a free series of online programmes called ‘Sustainable Textile Teach-Ins’. The latest contributor is textile artist and educator Arlette Ngung who will be exploring dyeing techniques inspired by traditional African textiles. Free registration is required to take part in the workshop which will take place on Wednesday 24 February, 4 - 6pm (GMT -5). Donations to the Textile Museum of Canada are encouraged to support the museum during this time.
Image: An example of work produced with natural dyes by artist Arlette Ngung. Textile Museum of Canada.
Instructor Arlette is an artist and pattern maker inspired by tradition, sustainability and the weaving together of old and new practices. Devoted to the preservation and reinterpretation of traditional African Textile and natural dyeing techniques, one of her main passions is protecting and sharing the historical heritage of African Art which much of inspiration is drawn from. Her background plays a huge role in her work — from the colourful prints and cultural history of Eastern and central Africa, to the use of a visual literacy approach which uses textiles as a means to tell stories, explore the world and inspire societal change.
Image: Detail of Bògòlanfini fabric. Courtesy of Tissus & Artisans du Monde
The African Vegan Art workshop is influenced by Bògòlanfini (mud-cloth) art — a handmade cotton fabric traditionally died with fermented mud and natural dyes. Originating from Mali, West Africa, men traditionally weave cotton strips about 15 centimetres wide on narrow looms which are then stitched into larger cloths, thus producing the canvas that women decorate through a resist process using plant extracts and mud. Hand painted with patterns and symbols using a variety of natural dyes, including river mud that has been aged up to a year, the motifs are usually abstract representations of everyday objects that give rise to proverbs, songs and representations of historical events. In the workshop, participants will learn and engage with this historical textile dyeing technique to create a unique textile for themselves.
Read more about Bògòlanfini in Selvedge Issue 88 Geometric.