COLOURS FROM AMSTERDAM
“Lucila discovered in her practice as a textile designer that most of the dyes she used where or produced synthetically, or naturally made from plants growing in continents far away. When she met Rens, who knows a lot from the local properties of flora an idea was born, they started researching the tinctorial properties of local plants for a more responsible application of dyes on to textiles.
Dye making is a time consuming but fulfilling practice, it beckons them into the landscape. With over 400,000 trees, Amsterdam is a perfect place to hunt for colours. But they do not only harvest from trees, it can be plant waste from their own gardens, rooftops, chopped sick Elms from the Stadhouderskade, the Amsterdamse Bos, the Westerpark or the green strips next to the highway. The place where they harvest is the place where nature and culture merge and where the municipal gardeners chop down trees, plant new trees of pruning plants. Lucila and Rens find wealth, richness in diversity in city waste and quality in connecting with city nature and the people around them who they want to include in this project; municipal gardeners, gardener volunteers, woodworkers, city biologists, artists, the Hortus Botanicus and the neighbors.
From start to finish Lucila and Rens found lots of energy and motivation to develop a more integrated awareness of what a city can offer. Throughout the last 150 years, the knowledge of making natural dyes has been lost so they want to reintroduce it to the community, by making the results of their research into a city color guide to Amsterdam, with recipe’s, information about the local trees combined with workshops and lectures about the subject.”
Sophie Wright , Let it Grow.
is a research-project focused on making paints and inks out of plants and how to make these suitable for different printing techniques. The project was started in 2011 by biologist and artist Naan Rijks, and is executed inside the AGALAB. In 2017, Lucila Kenny (Argentinean textile designer) joined the project. More than 30 species of plants have been cultivated, all containing either dyes or pigments.
The research is divided in the different steps which lead from plant to dye. This starts with the cultivation of the plants. Next, the pigment has to be extracted. The third and final step in the process is mixing the pigment with a binder.