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Wild Things Exhibition

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by Damsel Martin (subscribe)
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Getting back to nature has never been so much fun
scarf wrap botanical wild things
Wrapped in nature's bounty. Artist image.

Question: What do onion skins, eucalyptus leaves, lichen, purple cabbage and marigold have in common? Answer: They're all sources of locally-produced natural dyes, the beauty of which will add to this five-day exhibition of exclusive handcrafted textiles

Some of our "Wild Things " this year will come courtesy of common plants found in gardens and bushland, says Samford-based feltmaker and textile artist Wendy Bailye.

Both Bailye and fellow artist Sharyn Hall have been using dyes since their college days. 'Sharyn has a lovely sample book she made many years ago of naturally dyed fibres and fabrics which is a fantastic resource,' says Bailye. 'We have both been revisiting this process to extend our artistic practice and to utilise plants from our gardens. We both love our gardens. I am planting some plants now specifically for my own dyeing. Marigold, madder, Australian indigo (and) plenty of eucalyptus!'

Sourcing natural dyes is becoming increasingly popular because of collective concerns for the environment and personal health, Bailye adds. 'Petroleum chemicals and heavy metals are used in synthetic dyes so a natural alternative is needed. Even with natural dyes one has to be careful with their sustainability - for example, lichens are very slow to grow and one should not harvest them from the natural environment. (Instead) I have a friend who has a nursery and he saves all the lichen growing on his shade cloth for me, which gives a lovely purple dye.'

Wild Things will feature handprinted, painted, felted and stitched wearables, accessories and homewares, wall art, handcrafted jewellery, cards and art journals and more.

Bailye says she's noticed an upsurge in people wanting to purchase locally-made goods for Christmas - particularly those that are sustainably-made. Accordingly, the two artists will also be using recycled materials in some of their works. 'We have been known, pre-exhibition, to have a lot of fun at kerbside cleanups.'

Among the top must-see items for prospective shoppers are brooches ('flowery, modern, arty, embroidered, you name it'), framed and mounted artwork for the wall and textile jewellery ('handmade, tasteful, but just a little bit quirky - think dangly threads, recycled bangles, felt balls and braids and pom poms').

More than 100 hand-dyed and hand-felted scarves and wraps will also be on sale, along with 'fantastic handbags and shoulder bags' and arty felted homewares like tea cosies and wine coolers. 'Wool is naturally insulating and moisture-proof - the perfect cooler for that special bottle of red,' Bailye adds.

Smart shoppers will perhaps even make a day of it - strolling the gardens, enjoying lunch at Botanical and then handpicking gifts for those special someones in your life.

Related articles:

QAGOMA Christmas Design Market
Botanique Christmas Bazaar

flowers wild things exhibition botanical
Natural dyes made from eucalyptus, purple cabbage, lichen and marigold bring felted flowers to life. Artist image.

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Why? Contemporary textiles with a twist
When: Wed 27 to Fri 29 (9am to 5pm); Sat 30 and Sun 01 (9am to 4pm)
Where: Richard Randall Art Studio, Brisbane Botanic Gardens
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