Digital Textile Printing

a 3D3 research project



Exhibition – Weaving Magic – Chris Ofili, 26th April to 28th August 2017, National Gallery, London

Chris Ofili‘s work has evolved from the colourful , dazzling collages perched on elephant dung which I first saw at the infamous Sensation show at the Royal Academy of Art way back in 1997, and more recently at MUMOK, Vienna. The works at MUMOK looked lonely, and lost but the a lot of the work at MUMOK looked like that. My experience there was rather unwelcoming, so much so I didn’t even write about visiting there in my Vienna Posts (here, here and here).

His work is still colourful and cultural but is far more pictorial and crossed mediums into weaving. ‘Weaving Magic‘ is a collaborative piece really, the piece took Dovecot Tapestry Studio three years to make, the labour undertaken by five weavers. Surrounding the weaving are dancers, drawn onto the wall from the cornice to the skirting by members of the Royal Opera House scenography department. The drawings look like they’ve been done in graphite or a soft HB pencil and are actually panel installations, created just like the ROH’s backdrops.

What is really magical is how the translation of Ofili’s original watercolours into thread. The tonal gradations really look like they’ve been painted on in a wash of water and paint. It reminds me of the Shadow Tissue technique, where thread was printed before being woven to create blurred images. I can only guess how the weaver’s achieved this affect. The work was funded by The Clothworkers Company who will now host the work in the Clothworker’s Hall.


Exhibition – X Play – Camille Walala, 14th July to 24th September, Now Gallery, London

Camille Walala is a textile designer whose work has branched out into installation pieces. Her exhibition at the Now Gallery in Greenwich was a colourful pattern maze which asked the viewer to question their perception and visual memory whilst enjoying a brightly coloured space. You were meant to spot the pattern anomalies but we mainly enjoyed the intersections created by mirrors and space.

Colour Theory – Mary Gartside (pre 1765 – died after 1808)

Mary Gartside was a  water colourist and colour theorist whose essay on light and shade provides guidance for female artists on colour mixing and colour theory.

I particularly like the ‘diagrams’ she produced for showing all the colours that a particular hue can produce (shown above). Because she was using water colour paints the tonality and wash across the colours makes beautiful blobs of abstract colour with a dominating prevalence of green. They are so different from any of the other colour diagrams I’ve come across but there is a definite sense of order with the darker tones to the right, a concentration of the hue colour in the centre and lighter shades to the left. She classified her colours in terms of temperature (warm and cold) and value (light and dark).

As a botanical artist she also referenced colour changes in nature. She was working at a tie when new ranges of pigments were available to artists dues to changes in pigment production. She is the only colour theorist I have come across.

Gartside referenced the work of Moses Harris and Isaac Newton and ‘predated ideas which Goethe elaborated on in much greater detail, such as the effect of colour combinations, the significance of light and shade in relation to tints, and the eye of the beholder as the centre and origin of colour perception.’ (Alexandra Loske- Sussex University)

You can read her essay here and published research by Alexandra Loske here.

Primary Colours identified: Red, yellow, violet and blue

Colour Diagrams: Washes of colour hues and a Colour Ball

Mary Gartside yellow color composition from her book an essay on light and shadeMary Gartside white colour composition from her book an essay on light and shadeMary Gartside Violet colour composition from her book an essay on light and shadeMary Gartside Scarlet composition from her essay on light and shadeMary Gartside Orange Composition from her book An essay on light and shadeMary Gartside Green composition from her book An Essay on Light and ShadeMary Gartside Crimson composition from her book an Essay on Light and ShadeMary Gartside Blue compostiion from her book An Essay on Light and Shade




Exhibition – Turning Inwards, Louise Bourgeois, Hauser and Wirth Somerset, 2nd October to 1st January 2017, Bruton, Somerset

Hauser and Wirth in Somerset has an enormous Louise Bourgeios  spider which normally lives in a courtyard at the back of the gallery but for this show came in out of the winter cold into the gallery space along with a number of prints she made in the last 4 years of her life.

Many were monochrome, or tones of a dominant colour, and featured organic wriggling and undulating shapes that depicted numerous body parts and plants. Hauser and Wirth describe them as ‘interweaving the artist’s reflections on femininity, sexuality, botany, family and infancy’. They reveal the maker’s hand and have a lovely sense of movement to them. It was wonderful to see work from an artist still making such strong and beautiful work into her 90s. Very inspiring.

Exhibition – Paul Nash, 26th October 2016 to 5th March 2017, Tate Britain, London

Paul Nash was a painter and designer who studied at Slade School of Art where he was introduced to Roger Fry and the Omega Workshop for whom he produced some work. During the First World War he produced many paintings and sketches depicting the trenches, battle scenes and aftermath becoming an official war artist from 1917. When he returned from the war he continued to work as an artist but branched out into design including theatre and textile pieces. He produced many moquettes for Frank Pick’s London Underground.

His style began to become more innovative at the end of the 20s, beginning of the 30s to a surrealist style, much of which was on display here. The Tate used coloured walls to contrast with the muted colours and greys that Nash uses. I managed to take a few photos of his paintings of the moon over the downs (again I was having to do it surreptitiously ). The colours in these seem to contain a lot of grey, grey pinks, grey yellows, grey blues, grey greens but smatterings and pops of warm tones, terracotta orange, fuchsia pink.

He loved to paint landscapes, and seems to have painting similar scenes over and over again, trees, beaches covered in timber groynes. Here you can see his surrealist style. There are stronger examples, where he features crows and mirrors and dream sequences, but I felt these had stronger colour qualities.

His war paintings have a similar colour palette, I failed to get many photos but did find this rather lovely postcard in the gift shop. You can sense the smoke and the bombs and the chaos. The dark plumes of smoke in the centre jetted with yellow and blue, and deep reds streaming off in the distance. The colours are very similar to his surrealist work despite the change in content.


The Tate show featured lots of sketch books, interesting sculptural and painting aids as well as work by contemporaries and friends. But sadly not any of his designs, which I think was a real shame as it would have been an interesting juxtaposition to his paintings.


Conference – PICS2016, 14th to 15th September 2016, London

The Progress in Colour Studies Conference 2016 was held at the University College London and I had the exciting honour to have been selected to present a poster. My first ever poster !

I wanted to include a blog post about some of the presentations. Images below are from Janet Best – Big data technology connecting supply chains driving transparency enabled sustainability

Fransika Schenk – Harnessing Nature’s ingenuity: The art of ‘smart’ colour

John H Xin – An empirical study on fabric image retrieval using colour and pattern features

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Janet was speaking about the colour management system she works for natific, whose colour communication system, through data, aids colour assurance. She highlighted in her slides current issues between the way colour is communicated in the textile industry from design to dye house to mill to retailer and how that could knock colour coordination in a particular range out and cause costly mistakes and waste of unsold stock.

Fransika, an artist, demonstrated the technique she used to create luminescence, mimicking nature’s irridecense in her paintings. They were amazing and I would love the opportunity to see them in real life.

John presented an image database that allowed a company to search their products by inputing an image of the pattern type that was required. The database would analyse the image and then seek out from an online archive the type of cloth needed.

I also very much enjoyed Carole Biggham’s key note on Is it all guesswork? Translating colour terms across the centuries, where she discussed research into colour vocabulary. It was fascinating to hear how there hadn’t been a word for blue for a very long time in the English language, blue and green in many cultures are seen as the same hue but different tones. There was also no words for orange and pink, as the occurrences of these colours in nature were just seen as part of the tonal range of red.

The whole conference really made me re-think how I understood colour. And I survived the poster presentation. Although sadly I didn’t win any prizes. I am have begun to make a start on a follow up version of my presentation of the variables involved in the digital textile printing process which maps out the variables and gives more detail on what they do and how they affect colour and might be controlled and by whom.

Exhibition – Hollow, Katie Paterson, Situations, Bristol


Hollow is a piece commissioned by Situations, an organisation which supports site specific art projects, created by Katie Paterson, and is situated in the grounds of Bristol University. It includes a sample of every type of wood in existence. The range of colours was amazing from deep reds, dark browns to almost white. You enter the piece through a small hole in the side and find yourself in a trunk like space, surrounded by these hanging pieces of wood, almost like roots burrowing down. It also smelt beautiful.

Situations also commissioned Sanctum , a Theaster Gates project where a space was built and hosted performances of sound and spoken work for twenty four hours over twenty four days.


Exhibition – Emotional Archaeology, Daphne Wright, 30th September to 31st December 2016, Arnolfini, Bristol

Daphne Wright‘s exhibition at the Arnolfini is juxtaposed with another at a local National Trust Property, Tyntesfield, which felt like a source of inspiration. From plaster cast lattice work, complete with beating hearts, to very realistic taxidermy-esq dead horses, lambs, monkeys and swans (oh they are asleep Mummy, says toddler) it was a darkly comic, gothic show. British history, and the colonialism, slavery and trading that went with it, is dark and whilst we champion our democracy and civilisation we must not forget what we have built that upon.

Wright’s work is about relationships, primarily domestic ones, hence the animals, and the hearts. How do we and why do we care for things and are the intentions behind these power relationships where care and love for another is involved, good for all parties? Not from the fate of the horse I think.

Exhibition – Radical Atoms, Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria

The final part of the 3D3 Residential was a visit to Ars Electronica, an international arts, science and technology exhibition. It is huge and occupies several sites across the city of Linz.

Linz is set on the Danube and we loved watching the large ferries waddling along the fat river in the sunshine with names like Mozart, wondering where they’d come from and where they’d stop off at next. We took a very comfortable speedy train from Vienna across the Austrian countryside and within an hour and a half had arrived in Linz. The weather was hot and we felt a bit hot and grubby but walked from the train station to the old post office buildings where the main part of the exhibition was held.

If we felt grubby already the post office site was grubbier still with rather lovely blue shoots which letters and parcels would have fallen down when it was up and running, swirling along the concrete rooms. We queued up to get our passes and found a table to have some coffee. There was so much to see. The space was divided up by theme with various organisations and institutions exhibiting. There were spaces for performances, talks and workshops.

Slightly dazed we wandered around. There was a particularly lovely installation by Akiko Nakayama called Alive Painting where you were invited to mix up some paints and then deposit the mixture into a paper filter which dripped into a glass bottle. As the paints separated so did the colours and you were left with these filters of rings of colour. Really clever.

The problem with seeing lots of clever art is that it doesn’t half make you feel a bit stupid, especially when its also quite hot and humid. From robotic plants, to 3d concrete printing there was absolutely everything under the sun.

What I reflected upon the most however was the way the work was displayed. Text was minimal, the works, visual, interactive, experimental, were left to speak for themselves. Items were displayed with little pomp and there were no signs of the white cube, the hushed gallery space. Everything was industrial and grubby (despite the organisers attempts to green it up with plants placed everywhere. But this did truly offer an insight into ‘practice as research’. Here is the research, in front of you. You can experience it, touch it sometimes and see it working and the ideas spilling out. There were no journals or peer reviewing (well that was what you were doing by visiting) but if you wanted an example of research out of the academy then Ars Electronica is a good one. Its perhaps a little masculine, and there were outcries about the awards mainly going to men, but a lot of the academic world is very masculine so that’s not something that felt particularly out of place (although not something I champion either).

In terms of textiles, colour and my own research, I felt a bit other. There were some beautifully constructed 3d printed dresses and materials which were fabric orientated, but weave and constructed textiles don’t feel like my field of expertise. I connected more with the Museum Quarter exhibitions in that respect. But this visit took me out of my comfort zone, showed me how practice as research could be and was also a lot of fun.

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