Colour Ecology - Kathryn Beckett

AiRborne Residency 1: June to October 2013


Colour-Ecology is a project initiated by Kathryn Beckett, a recent graduate in Textiles from Glasgow School of Art. Kathryn’s AiRborne residency was dedicated to research in how the production of pigments, dyes and colour can affect our environment. Her blog documented the process that Kathy explored to develop more sustainable and environmentally sound options for the design and production of textiles.

The project commenced by planting different plant species that yield colour in different ways, thus creating a renewable resource for dyeing textile fibres. The Dye Garden was established in the area surrounding the Glasshouse, adjacent to the walled garden in Bellahouston Park with the help of a small but dedicated team of volunteers.

Kathy led a participatory ‘Foraging’ event in Bellahouston Park which introduced members of the public to the Colour-Ecology project and encouraged them to consider the potential of plants in the creation of natural dyes.

A vital part of the Colour Ecology project and Kathy's AiRborne residency was the development of a public engagement programme where she led the following free-access workshops and events:

  • Observation/Documenting - where participants learn new skills such as observational drawing/photography and more about the properties of different plant species.

  • Design Development - where the group utilised their observational work to start creating textures/patterns that could be developed into knitted/printed fabric designs and 3D textile samplers.

  • Harvesting & Dyeing – the group harvested the plants together and then dyed textile fibres to use with the designs they developed.

  • Fabric Production - a large scale knitted/printed fabric was produced by Kathy and the group using the dyed yarns from previous stages. This textile hanging was 10 metres long and 60cm wide, lavishly illustrating the potential of natural dyeing and the contributions from public participants.

  • Exhibition & Sharing - the project process and outcomes were exhibited in the Dovecote at the Heritage Centre and shared at a special preview with an invited audience of participants/contributors, local schoolchildren, textile practitioners and others.

The Colour Ecology residency finished with a public seminar on Living and Making Sustainability with presentations from key advocates from the Permaculture, Arts and Hospitality sectors.