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  • Lea Rose Kara

My Journey to the Colour Green



Morning Art Family!


To celebrate Spring I wanted to dedicate this month’s newsletter to the colour Green, which has recently dominated my sculptural practice.


Green is synonymous with Nature and yet is so difficult to truly capture. From being a symbol of ‘fertility’ and ‘abundance’, through a slight change of tone, green can quickly become associated with something ‘poisonous’ and ‘unstable’. This mutability is closely linked to my explorations into the social and spiritual ideologies of Mother Nature, in particular the juxtaposition of her power to give birth and end life through disease or harsh conditions.


I first discovered natural dyes during my Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. Being a very chatty person who enjoys meeting new people, I explored the different uni departments and met a lovely girl called Vicky who was studying Textiles. Vicky was taking a module in natural dyes, and she showed me her experiments with dyeing vegetables and flowers onto silk and cotton fabric.  



Close up of ‘More than Meets the Eye’ installation Close up of ‘Footsteps’ sculpture


I never knew that you could obtain pigment directly from organic matter – maybe by crushing rocks – but not through flowers. So far in my practice, I had always physically incorporated organic matter into my sculptures as a way of representing and commenting on Nature, but it was time to expand my sculptural vocabulary and start consciously using colours in order to add new dimension to the work.


I spent the next 2 years experimenting and learning about natural dyes. Through numerous successes and failures I developed my own 'Wool and Colour Database' folder containing different types of wool, a breakdown of their qualities, and appropriateness for certain types of works. The folder also contains colour categories filled with wool that has been dyed with seasonal international flowers as well as local fruits and flowers that I collected during my walks through woodlands and parks in the UK.


Sampling dyes Foraging for flowers and berries


I slowly turned into an alchemist/witch; testing the water’s PH levels during the dyeing process, measuring the ratio of natural preservatives needed to help the wool maintain its colour and achieve a particularly hue, and even identifying at what stage of the blooming cycle the flower was best for dyeing.


As I grew confident in my knowledge, there was one colour that remained elusive: green. I read books, watched documentaries, and spoke to people who worked with dyes, but no one knew how to obtain the colour green from nature using my preferred dye method.


When it comes to art, I refuse to accept the answer “no” or “it can’t be done” – “there is always a way!” is my motto. Behind this stubbornness lies the true reason for my persistence: green is my favourite colour.


‘In the Green’,  virgin wool dyed with chrysanthemums on canvas, 20.5 x 20.5 cm, 2023


Finally, on 12th March 2023 around 5:30 pm my hard work and development of a special dye recipe was rewarded as I opened my dye bundle to discover that a chrysanthemum flower gave me a rich green tone. That moment truly felt like something out of a movie, you know…the one where the clouds part and a choir of angels sing ‘Halleluiah’ above your head. Since that day I have continued to expand on the variety of greens that I obtain and in fact, green has become one of the biggest colour collections in my dye portfolio.


What’s your favourite colour?


Hugs,

Lea


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