The most stunning shades in the world are the ones found in
nature. This world of possibility and diversity of colour is what
first drew artist Bella Gonshorovitz to the ancient practice of
making and using natural dyes.
The process of dyeing fabrics with natural dyes is exciting for
many reasons, with each colour being deeply connected to the
plant from which it is made (and qualities inherent to the plant’s
surrounding ecosystem). Conditions of the soil, the sunlight, the
time of year, the way in which material is stored, the pH level of
the water, the touch of the human hand and mind handling the
dye vat all have an impact on the resulting colour. Very rarely will
two dyed fabric lengths end up the exact same shade. This effect
mimics the organic way that colours develop in nature.
The purpose of The Hounslow Cloth project is to situate the
natural dye process within the landscape and communities of the
London Borough of Hounslow. The resulting artworks portray the
diversity, vibrance and vitality of this environment through a
series of fabric collages of cloth dyed with flowers, plants,
vegetation and kitchen scraps collected from three sites across
Bella selected Hounslow Heath, the Salopian Garden in Isleworth
and Gurdwara Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha as places to
collect dyestuff in collaboration with members of the Hounslow
Exhibitions Group and local people. Each site was visited with
the community invited to accompany Bella in collecting dyestuff;
this created a rich, varied series of conversations, discoveries and
sharing of knowledge between artists, gardeners, cooks,
community activists and other custodians of Hounslow’s green
and community spaces.
With thanks to:
Stephen Bishop and Andrew Peake of the London Borough of
Hounslow Countryside Team; Mick Massie, and others who joined
us on our walks on the Heath; Sally Tillson and the team and
volunteers at Cultivate London; Kamaljeet Kaur and the
community of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha;
Cristina Schek, Lukasz Kapuscinski, and Kamaljeet Kaur for their
photography that is included in this exhibition.
About Bella Gonshorovitz: Bella is a multidisciplinary creative
practitioner and an author. She collaborated with
artists such as Cathie Pilkington RA on public art
installations and exhibitions. Her debut book
‘Grow, Cook, Dye, Wear – From seed to style the sustainable
way’ was published by DK/Penguin Random House in 2022,
aiming to connect the dots between the practice of growing
your own, cooking, natural dye and creative clothes making.
Bella is passionate about working with communities, bringing
the global issue of the climate crisis to our local environments
through art and re-connecting us to the notion that all we
consume comes from nature.
About Creative People & Places
This project has been curated by members of the
Hounslow Exhibitions Group, formed of members
of the local community in collaboration with the
Creative People & Places Hounslow Visual Arts
Programme, which presents new and original
exhibitions in libraries, cafes and other public
spaces across the borough. CPP Hounslow is a
consortium led by Watermans.
Image credit: Cristina Schek, from a workshop at the Salopian Garden, Isleworth, July 2023