Following the success of Episode IV in the “In Time Of” series “A Date with Seeds” which ran in July/August – the Nan Fung Group is now presenting Episode V “Colours of the Earth” which invites the public to continue exploring the relationship between seeds and the soil by uncovering the myriad hues displayed by Mother Nature between September and November.
In Episode V, Nan Fung collaborated with several social stakeholders including Sangwood KidsClub, a local agricultural education group; and Giants Tie Dye, a group of tie-dye artists from Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as UUendy Lau (UU), an installation artist who loves to observe animals and the natural world as inspiration for her designs. Together, they will create an exclusive multisensory exhibition with natural dye installations and a series of interactive workshops running from September to November at the Group’s iconic cultural landmark, The Mills. During the exhibition, visitors can explore nature’s language of colours first-hand through different artistic approaches and reflect on the importance of nature conservation.
Telling Nature Stories with Colours
Natural dyeing is an environmentally friendly dyeing method with a long history around the world. Each dyer has their own craft which can lead to different colour effects, so every product, in fact, is a unique work of art that illustrates our story with nature.
The Mills cooperated with designer UUendy Lau (UU) to create three large natural dye installation pieces with natural elements including flowers, leaves and branches, along with a fascinating story about a girl and a tree named the “Happy Birthday to Tree”, which was inspired by her personal experience with a Poinciana Tree in Tsuen Wan.
The resulting colourful installations, dyed with homemade indigo, gardenia fruit, and the common madder root, showed the creativity of UU. They also integrated the imaginative use of flowers and plants from different parties within the community. The Mills organised two pre-workshops based upon the exhibition and the overall narrative, invited students and elderly folks from the Ebenezer School and Home for the Visually Impaired as well as the St. James Settlement Project Care Neighbourhood Elderly Centre in Tsuen Wan to create natural dye artworks while discussing their views of the natural landscapes. All the finished works will be displayed in visual and tactile experiences around the venue, showcasing the variety of natural dyes to the public through a multisensory approach.
Alongside the exhibition, a series of eco-friendly natural dye workshops will also be held at The Mills and the Centre for Heritage Arts & Culture (CHAT) for visitors to get creative and learn about the dying techniques, while enjoying the fun of the natural dying process.
The experience includes the “Natural Dye Washi Crafting Workshop” hosted by the Pok Fu Lam Village Ladies Workshop who are skilled at making handicrafts from natural resources. Participants can learn how to extract colours from local natural ingredients, with the applications of tie-dye techniques, to create their own natural dyes and patterns based on Japanese Washi. To celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, participants can also join the “Natural Dye Washi Lantern Crafting Workshop”, led by lantern master Mr Ng Kong Kin, and learn basic skills of crafting traditional lanterns by using bamboo strips and paper sticks. In the final step of the Workshop, the air-dried natural dye Washi will be pasted on lanterns to create unique lantern patterns.
A Dreamcatcher is a protective talisman, originating from North American cultures, that symbolises blessings and protection. It also represents unique energy and emotions with different decorations and colours. The “Mini Dreamcatcher Workshop” hosted by the artist UU will lead participants in interacting with nature through modern craftsmanship and art. Participants can learn to weave their own mini dreamcatchers using natural materials and indigo dyes.
The CHAT team has made use of the Indigofera tinctoria grown locally on the farmlands of the Sangwood KidsClub over the past year and processed it to produce a homemade indigo dye which they will introduce in collaboration with other artists to bring a variety of indigo dye experiences to visitors, including the “Indigo Dye Tote Bag Design Workshop”, the “Botanical Eco-Printing Workshop” and the “Japanese Furoshiki Design Workshop”. These workshops will help participants to learn different dying techniques such as wax resistant dyeing, indigo dyeing, and eco-printing.
Various plant growing stories will also be exhibited throughout the venue, so visitors can explore the life cycle of plants, the process of making natural dyes, and learn about the “Colours of the Earth” from different perspectives.