Natural Dyeing: Colours From Nature

There’s dye in everything, really’, says artist Deborah Brearley, as she unpacks oxalis, lichens, rusty nails and an array of other gathered materials onto the kitchen bench: all ingredients for the natural dye pot. Deb has been dyeing textiles using natural pigments for more than three decades, and in the world of natural dyeing that makes her a bit of a master.

‘This is like a journal’, she says as she produces a loop of twisted-wool dyed samples, with handwritten tags such as Lichen (Paradise Falls, Apollo Bay), winter 1979 and Orange fungus (Perrys’, Bacchus Marsh), winter 1981. The journey of her life is noted on these tags, a record of her art and travels, tracking the seasons and places she has been. As well as dyeing her own fibres, Deb spins her own yarn and knits it into garments and artworks. Her art practice is multidisciplinary – including painting, quilting and photography; she’s committed to understanding and valuing materials and processes, from ground pigment to finished artwork.