Here at Selvedge we’ve noticed an increasing interest recently in the craft of natural dyeing. With a range of natural dye workshops that are becoming more and more popular each year, it’s clear to see that many makers are being drawn to this medium for a great number of reasons. Whether it’s a personal decision to opt out of mass production, a purely economical one or even a means of meditation, natural dyeing is blossoming in the craft industries right now. The upcoming exhibition Chromatic Geography: Natural Dyes in the 21st Century opening soon at the Craft Ontario Gallery in Toronto attempts to unpick this ongoing revival.

The curators behind this show argue that it may be due to a growing awareness of industrial dyeing’s harmful by-products, and a greater understanding of the environmental issues surrounding textile production. With a new generation of makers taking it upon themselves to reform the contemporary dyeing industry, each of the artists in this group show use it as a way to connect with their sense of place. Abigail Booth, quilt-maker and one half of the London-based textiles and homeware studio Forest + Found, is one of the formidable makers taking part in this show.

‘Referencing familiar architectural motifs such as bars, grids and columns, I use patchwork to construct broken compositions that illustrate the failed or fractured in both our built and natural surroundings’ Abigail says. ‘Working with natural dyes affords me a subtlety of colour that resonates with my use of negative space to create a sense of stillness and reflection. Working solely with wood tannins to produce a restrained palette of muted greys and browns, the colours I use are inherent to my identity and connection to surrounding landscape. Through abstraction, both in composition and colour, I look to evoke a strong emotional response to the constructed, cerebral spaces that occupy my wall pieces.’


Abigail’s methodology resonates strongly with the exhibition’s theme concerning the rise of the local. This DIY approach to life and work forms an important part of why natural dyes continue to become so popular round the world, and forms just one of this movement’s many elements examined by Chromatic Geography. From scientific research to raw material development, to innovative, contemporary applications in craft, fashion, design and art, this exhibition will give great insight into the rise of the natural dye.

Selvedge is hosting a programme of upcoming dyeing workshops across the UK, including:

Natural Dyeing: Indigo with Irene Griffin in Lostwithiel, 9 - 10 June, and

Creative Natural Dyeing with Botanical Inks in Bristol, 15 June.

Chromatic Geography: Natural Dyes in the 21st Century, 8 June - 26 August 2017

1106 Queen St. West, Toronto, ON, M6J 1H9

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