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A Textile Garden

Loved my glimpses of the gardens at Chelsea Flower Show on TV this week.

And of course, I was fascinated to see the Textile Garden solely featuring plants that can be used to make or dye cloth. My garden has many plants I use for dyeing, printing, weaving (and of course inspiration for my textile art) but textile turned garden designer Lottie Delamain has showcased even more creative possibilities.

A simple weave pattern was the start of the geometry for the garden with ribbons of paving woven through the space, large inky pools to represent dye baths and swathes of repeated colour to create the impression of a textile. There is even twisted cloth in the pools that look like roses.

A large-scale textile installation forms a backdrop – linen woven from UK-grown flax, dyed using plant-based dyes, designed to make real the connection between plants and textiles and also evoke the sense of being within a loom, with the warp and the weft.

The upcycled Irish linen sheets are dyed by Kate Turnbull and her students at Headington School:

yellow colour - daffodil and dandelion heads

rust colour - rhubarb roots

pink colour - cherry bark and madder roots

green colour - gently simmered nettle leaves with a copper modifier.

The philosophy behind the garden is about seeing the potential in the resources we have, exploring how we can utilise them in more creative ways. Many of the plants are native wildflowers, easily propagated and grown in the UK and undemanding in terms of water, showcasing an alternative to the 15,000 chemicals that can be used during the textile manufacturing process, from the raw materials through to dyeing and finishing, which can be hazardous to the environment and our health.

The garden is funded by activist charity Fashion Revolution who, like me, believe we need a radical shift in our relationship with the clothes we wear, as well as with the natural world, for our own prosperity and well-being, as well as for the health of our earth and our ocean.

After RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the garden will be relocated to Headington School in Oxford. The garden will be reimagined in two parts - as a working dye garden for the Textile Design students, and as a Colour Wheel garden, designed to inspire students across the school about the myriad roles plants play in our lives.

As it's the best time of year to be utilising plants for colouring and printing fabric I have two workshops coming up:

A six-week online course starting on 16th June

An in-person day on 23rd July

contact me for booking details or to receive my monthly emails to keep in touch with future workshops,

You are also welcome to visit my garden and studio anytime, by appointment

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