Exhibition

Indigo: A Blue to Dye For

29 Sep 2007 – 6 Jan 2008

Event times

Tuesday: 10am-7pm

Wednesday-Saturday: 10am-5pm

Sunday: 2-5pm

Closed Mondays, except public holidays 10am-5pm

Closed 23-26 December, 31 December 2007 & 1 January 2008

Cost of entry

Free

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

Brighton, United Kingdom

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Indigo: A Blue to Dye For

About

Indigo: A Blue To Dye For, a survey of the world's oldest and most distinctive dyestuff, is a major exhibition of art, craft, fashion, and design featuring historical and contemporary indigo-dyed artefacts from around the world.

Believed by many cultures to be charged with unique talismanic properties, indigo is the dyestuff behind one of the world's ubiquitous fabrics ' denim. This spectacular exhibition, shown across two major museums in Brighton & Hove, explores the dye's use over time and space.

The universality of indigo is demonstrated through an outstanding range of textiles and clothing from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The wide range of decorative techniques includes hand-drawn batiks, stencil designs, paste and wax resist cloths, blue printing, indigo discharge and tie dye, as well as shibori and sashiko.

Indigo: A Blue To Dye For spans indigo's rich history from burial cloths in Roman Egypt to 16th-18th century domestic textiles and clothing dyed in India and imported to Europe by the East India Company. The historical journey of indigo is traced through the rediscovery of indigo discharge techniques by William Morris for his chintzes, and its part in the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1870s-1880s and the manufacture of synthetic indigo in the late 19th century. The exhibition features one of the earliest pairs of denim jeans.

In addition to historical textiles, Indigo: A Blue To Dye For features the work of many contemporary craftmakers from Britain, Japan, India, Bangladesh and West Africa, illustrating the survival ' and adaptation to contemporary fashions ' of indigo. Some of the works have been specially commissioned for the show.

The process of indigo dyeing is explored through a display that examines the alchemical process of working with indigo, and includes dye balls, dye samples, botanical drawings and videos of cloth being dyed in different parts of the world. Its mysterious transformations have long been steeped in myth and magic and the show features indigo-dyed cloth with ritualistic and talismanic meanings.
Indigo: A Blue to Dye For
29 September 2007 to 6 January 2008
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and
Hove Museum & Art Gallery

Indigo: A Blue To Dye For, a survey of the world's oldest and most distinctive dyestuff, is a major exhibition of art, craft, fashion, and design featuring historical and contemporary indigo-dyed artefacts from around the world.

Believed by many cultures to be charged with unique talismanic properties, indigo is the dyestuff behind one of the world's ubiquitous fabrics ' denim. This spectacular exhibition, shown across two major museums in Brighton & Hove, explores the dye's use over time and space.

The universality of indigo is demonstrated through an outstanding range of textiles and clothing from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The wide range of decorative techniques includes hand-drawn batiks, stencil designs, paste and wax resist cloths, blue printing, indigo discharge and tie dye, as well as shibori and sashiko.

Indigo: A Blue To Dye For spans indigo's rich history from burial cloths in Roman Egypt to 16th-18th century domestic textiles and clothing dyed in India and imported to Europe by the East India Company. The historical journey of indigo is traced through the rediscovery of indigo discharge techniques by William Morris for his chintzes, and its part in the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1870s-1880s and the manufacture of synthetic indigo in the late 19th century. The exhibition features one of the earliest pairs of denim jeans.

In addition to historical textiles, Indigo: A Blue To Dye For features the work of many contemporary craftmakers from Britain, Japan, India, Bangladesh and West Africa, illustrating the survival ' and adaptation to contemporary fashions ' of indigo. Some of the works have been specially commissioned for the show.

The process of indigo dyeing is explored through a display that examines the alchemical process of working with indigo, and includes dye balls, dye samples, botanical drawings and videos of cloth being dyed in different parts of the world. Its mysterious transformations have long been steeped in myth and magic and the show features indigo-dyed cloth with ritualistic and talismanic meanings.

Indigo Blue Art: Hiroyuki Shindo Shindigo Space 07, detail, 2006 'Shindigo shibori'-dyed cotton and
hemp and Shindigo balls (polystyrene wrapped with hemp and dip-dyed)
Courtesy of the artist. Photo credit Joel Chester Fildes

The indigo story has a contemporary resonance through its use in the manufacture of denim, used for the most commonly worn fashion items in the world today. The exhibition features highlights from the story of blue denim, including original garments, advertising materials and movie stills from the Levi Strauss archive. There are examples of denim as used in haute couture, demonstrating how denim is continually re-invented and re-interpreted by both high - and high-street - fashion.

Fine and applied artists have long used indigo. The 'Blue Art' section of the exhibition demonstrates its beauty as a medium and inspiration. Japanese artist Hiroyuki Shindo (whose work is held in the permanent collection of many international galleries including MOMA, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago) is exhibiting in the UK for the first time as part of Indigo: A Blue to Dye For. His work features giant indigo balls and wall hangings in a stunning installation. The exhibition also features his contemporary Shihoko Fukumoto and the Palestinian-born Nasser Soumi, who paints in indigo.

Indigo: A Blue to Dye For is an extensive exhibition and is housed in the exhibition galleries at both Brighton Museum and Hove Museum.

Major installations at Brighton Museum include

the History of Indigo throughout the world;
Alchemy and the transformation of indigo from plant to dyestuff;
Decorative Techniques Worldwide and the wide-ranging uses of indigo by different cultures;
Fashion from Levi's blue jeans to iconic statements by Jean Paul Gaultier; and
Blue Art, with a spectacular textile installation by leading Japanese artist Hiroyuki Shindo.
Highlights of the show at Hove Museum include

indigo in British craft from the 18th century to the present day;
Myth, Medicine and Ritual, highlighting beliefs in the transformative properties of indigo; and
Workwear, including a denim prison uniform and a Japanese firefighter's outfit.
Also at Hove Museum, a separate display of indigo-based work by Jenny Balfour-Paul and Lucy Goffin complements the main exhibition.

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