My dyed textiles have developed in different directions. The original found textiles becoming a larger conversation in a formal, almost museum like presentation. Silk with printed text and images exploring the social exchange of food in my family. Histories presented on items that could pass as tourist merchandise. A silk bandana, a scarf purchased on holiday in the tropics. Culture: a marketable consumable. Luxury items made out of foods from a history of slavery, exploitation, and poverty.
The silk works are less of an exploration of the past, but rather a look at the present. There are strong bonds in my family over food. When my mother first moved back to Jamaica she mailed me photographs of foods she collected on her morning walk around the farm. No one was actively farming the land anymore but there was still food to find: ackee, pears/avocados, mangoes, oranges, chocho, bananas, breadfruit, pawpaw/papaya, coffee, callaloo, gungu/pigeon peas, red peas/kidney beans, passion fruit, nez berry, limes, lemons, coco, cassava, yam… Her letters spoke of meals shared while out visiting friends and family members; one could not visit without accepting food nor could welcome visitors without sending them with food. On my trips to Jamaica I would come home with suitcases filled with hot sauce, Jerk sauce, guava jellies, roasted breadfruits, bammies (flat cassava breads), avocadoes… all the comfort foods I could not find in Vancouver.
On my last two visits I found only empty shelves where I expected to find Grace Hot Pepper Sauce. Much to my initial surprise I can now find the very same hot sauce in local Vancouver produce stores and diners. Are they exporting so much that they can no-longer meet their domestic needs? Now I can purchase Ting and Grace Jerk sauce at my local IGA, a wider selection of West Indian goods at Superstore as the foods of Jamaica becoming part of a novelty ethnic market in North America.
My silk and text works are in part a comment on this market, they grow out of my fascination and participation in the social aspects of food and food preparation, and my concerns of what is being lost to a global market.
Related things on the web
- Extracting Natural Dye MAIWA blog post with video
- silk colour grid, a how to
- Silk Project
- Making dyes from plants