7 - 30 June 2019

Opening 5:30pm, 7 June at Tactile Arts Gallery


'We dye, print and stitch with indigo and colours from nature'.

Blue Leaves and Botanicals is a vibrant exhibition of fabrics and textile art pieces; some dyed with natural plant colours and others with the traditional technique of Indigo dyeing.

After attending a residential course of Indigo dyeing and Shibori techniques in Japan, under the tutelage of master craftsman Bryan Whitehead, Meng Hoeschle and Pamela Hefner formed a ‘student’ interest group to share their knowledge. Working in the Cycad Studio in rural Howard Springs the group of interested artists explored techniques of shibori and the possibilities of using plant dyes, in particular, Indigo to dye fabric, textiles and paper. Blue Leaves and Botanicals is the result of collaboration of these artists and presents a wide range of art works showing the many ways these media can be applied.

The participating artists, all of whom come from a background of textile and other art forms are, Doreen Dyer, Fiora Breuer, Laura Callaghan, Meng Hoeschle, Pamela Hefner and Pirjo Ward. They have a diverse range of knowledge and experience, exchanging ideas and extending the boundaries of their practice. The artists pay homage to traditional practices while adapting these art forms to a contemporary milieu.

Shibori is the Japanese technique of tying, binding and stitching to form a resist against the dye, usually Indigo. The resulting patterns can be complex, beautiful and always unique.

Much of the vitality of Indigo fabrics is in the strong contrast between the deep, dark indigo and the brilliant white areas created by the resist. Patterns can be as simple or complicated as desired depending upon the way the fabric is stitched, pleated or folded before entering the dye vat. Many hours of work may go into the preparation with intricate stitching and judicious pulling of the thread which can result in an image as delicate as a lace doily. To achieve a strong intense colour the fabric may need up to ten dips in the dye vat. When dry the patterns can be embellished with coloured stitching as can the plant dyed articles.

Plant dyes have been used for millennia to colour fabrics and paper. There has been a resurgence of interest in recent decades. The combination of plant material, heat and moisture transfers colour and the form of the plants to the fabric or paper. Petals and leaves are wrapped in natural fabrics such as silk or cotton and bound tightly before being either steamed or steeped in hot water. When printing on paper the plant material is sandwiched between sheets of paper. Up to six papers may be stacked which are then compressed between ceramic tiles and tightly bound before either steaming or immersion in hot water. Intensity of colour can be enhanced with the addition of certain eucalyptus or acacia leaves.

Creating these beautiful items has become an absorbing interest for these artists. Sharing knowledge, working together and experimenting with different plants to see which will release colour has cemented the friendship.


This project was made possible by the  Australian Governments Regional Arts Fund,  which supports the arts in regional and  remote Australia.







Tactile Arts Gallery

19 Conacher St, The Gardens NT

Gallery hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 4pm