"Colours are not random – each is the consequence of specific biological imperatives or chemical mechanisms" I carry out research into... Read More
"Colours are not random – each is the consequence of specific biological imperatives or chemical mechanisms"
I carry out research into natural dyes and their extraction, and explore how this knowledge relates to geography and culture. Nature is unpredictable and therefore so are the colours it produces. Location, seasons, pollution water are all factors that interfere with the colours extracted from any plant. So each hue corresponds to that particular moment, story or tale and has its own meaning.
In order to bring my ethnobotanical research to life I created an analogue machine that represents the production chain involved in dying yarns. This hand-operated machine transforms local plants into colours and dyes and knits yarn all in one go, while at the same time telling anthropological stories. By pulling the yarn, the machine starts working: the wool gets a geographically specific mineral treatment to aid fixation, is soaked in a botanical dye , and is turned into a handmade knit. Whether it is Eucalyptus from the Andes, Maytenus laevis from the jungle or dandelion from Europe – the colours they produce hold the key to many local stories.
In this project, colours document and evoke stories of human civilisation and the landscapes, places and culture represented by them. Colours are not random – each is the consequence of specific biological imperatives or chemical mechanisms. Water and minerals create plants; plants create colours; and colours define the relationship humans have with their surroundings.
Using ethnobotanical methodology, which implies an understanding of local customs and traditions in relation to plants, and using botanical dye techniques to investigate plants and their functions, I have tried to develop a better understanding of the environments I have investigated.
My research began in the Andes mountain range in Peru, continued in the Amazon jungle, and then moved to various European cities. The ecosystems I researched presented differences in water and soil composition and places where plants can be found. Water is an element that defines the well-being of a specific place on the basis of where this element comes from and its accessibility. At the same time its composition in terms of micro elements can favour, together with climate and other geographical and geological factors, colour extraction and certain peculiarities in terms of brightness, plant- water proportions, and mordanting (or fixative) strength.
My research has shown that colours are much more than light waves that hit our optical nerves. They also carry a synthesis of anthropological stories, biological imperatives, local chemistry that were revealed to me during my travels and personal discoveries. This project is a way for me to collect as many plant stories as possible so as not to lose this precious knowledge that has characterised the relationship humans have with their surroundings.