Illustration: India Flint. Original textile work.
The Australian textile and dye artist India Flint has taken elements from her family history and turned it into a creative journey that gives the impression of becoming a lifelong one. Flint has always been intrigued and imbued with her family's make-do-and-mend attitude. An interest that has taken up her family's particular practical interest in textiles and natural dyeing, expanding the experience to produce work that is staggering in its range of complexity. Using a variety of raw materials and experimental processes, she has managed to deliver an ever-widening range of unique colours and textures.
Although this article could well concentrate purely on the textile artwork of Flint, it seems more pressing and relevant to focus on her groundbreaking work concerning the natural dyeing process. It is her belief in achieving a near-zero impact, within a textile dyeing capacity, that has become an inspiration to others not only in Australia, but also across the globe. It is a belief that could will impact on all those involved within textile art and crafts and seems well worth expanding within this article.
Illustration: India Flint. Dyed paper work.
One of the major concerns troubling the modern textile world, whether professional or amateur, mass or hand-production is the impact that textiles and particularly that of the dyeing process, has on the environment. Commercial dyes are both hazardous to the world around them, whether that be the natural world, workers who produce and are employed within the industry, or communities that depend on that industry. Flint herself has taken the stand of only using specifically naturally sourced dyes in her work. However, she has pushed her personal beliefs and judgements concerning natural dyeing much farther than most. She has in fact produced an ongoing dyeing project that aims to project and publicise the natural dyeing qualities to be found in many, if not all vegetable plant life. This is not a case of using onion skins to produce insipid tones of yellow. Flint has produced a startling spectrum of colour and tone variety from forms of plant life that most textile users would never dream of finding useful or relevant.
Illustration: India Flint. Dyed paper work.
The images portrayed in this article were all produced using various hand-dyeing techniques and processes, some on fabric, others on paper. It seemed important to emphasise the staggering range of colour variation that Flint has been able to achieve purely through the natural dying process, and this surely must be an inspiration and guide to us all. Her ongoing experimentation with raw materials for dyeing, using both the mundane and the obscure, must in time be seen as a unique and important record towards the vocabulary of the natural dyeing craft that will be used for generations to come.
It can only be imagined where this rich creative journey will take Flint next. So many of us either take the natural world for granted or use it as an observational tool for compositional or inspirational work only. However, few of us nowadays see the natural world as forming any part of a practical function, and if we do, it is usually extremely limited in scope as to its practical and personal relevance. Flint's seemingly universal inspirational use of raw materials within the dyeing process surely must make us think again about the natural world around us. Our world is much more versatile and useful than we have been led to believe. If Flint can achieve such inspirational colours and tones from personal experimentation and a belief in the ability of the natural world around her, you have to wonder what could really be achieved if all those inspired by the world of textiles were to use the same level of experimentation and unfettered enthusiasm.
Illustration: India Flint. Textile artwork.
Flint's journey of experimentation and exploration should be a revelatory inspiration to all those involved in textiles. It is an art and a craft that by its very nature embraces the inventive, the investigative and the exploratory. To be able to push the boundaries of any aspect of this world should be a natural reaction and any individual artist, craftsperson or designer who does so should be applauded.
Flint has exhibited across Australia and extensively within Europe. Her work can be found in a number of collections on both continents. She has produced stage costumes for contemporary dance, has been involved in a number of publications promoting natural dyeing and runs various workshops. All this information and more can be found on her comprehensive website. Anyone wishing to follow Flint and her creative journey should sign up to follow her regularly updated blog Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost. Links to Flint's website, blog and books that are available on Amazon, can all be found below within the Reference links section.
All images were provided with the kind permission of the artist.
Reference links:Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
Felt (Handmade Style) (Handmade Style)
Island Life: Inspirational Interiors