"Blue Death" - Adventures in natural indigo Dyeing

This Spring I will be showing "Blue Death" a neckpiece, at Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge USA, as part of their exhibition celebrating 4000 years of jewellery, linked to an exhibition at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. My work was inspired by one of my favourite exhibits at the British Museum, Sumerian Court Jewellery from UR. C.2,500 BC. The extravagant assemblage of jewellery is beautiful when viewed, yet has a more macabre meaning. The pieces were excavated from a Royal burial and were found among several bodies. The Queen dressed in magnificent splendor was accompanied into the afterlife by her attendants.

"Blue Death" references the use of dye by ancient people for its symbolism of colour. Our blood is blue before it reaches the oxygen in the air around us. The fluid dye of the indigo represents this movement and the synthetic red once it is spilt. Blue Death could be interpreted as a royal death and also echoes the similarly named Black Death.

My neckpiece uses the following techniques: oxidised Silver fused and formed. Hand felted forms using red merino. Hand dyed yarn using natural Indigo dye. Crocheted cotton using unbleached yarn.

The pieces in the Museum are displayed based on how they were found on the skeletal remains. There is no evidence to show the totality of their appearance now the textiles elements are eroded. My translation of the works uses textiles to a great extent; these elements would not last very long underneath the earth. The original pieces could have been worn alongside textile elements. It is an enjoyable fantasy to think how they might have actually looked. The title Blue Death conjures up a story that invites the viewer to find out more about the origins of the work or create a meaning themselves from the puzzle presented.