|Detail of 'Threads of Life' Julie Ryder|
14 September - 9 October on Thursday night 6-8pm
90 Hunter Street
Wed - Sat 10 -4pm
The word chromophilia means an abnormal love of colour, deriving from the Greek chromo (colour) and phileo (to love), and is described as the property possessed by most cells of staining readily with appropriate dyes.
I first became interested in chromophilia when I was researching the use of Scanning Electron micrographs (SEM’s) in my Master’s work at ANU in 2003. With a past history of working in laboratories, I was scanning fragments of my dyed fabrics at very high magnification with the SEM. However, the SEM uses electrons, not light, to build up an image on the computer, so I had to learn how to use digital software to add the colour back in. This opened up a whole area of research into what colour was and how it was perceived – how were colours changed when they were placed together in various combinations? How were colours changed when they were seen from various distances? In what way are colours dependent on the size of the coloured surface?
In order to translate these concepts into textiles, I needed to explore a new technique of printing with dye called ‘chemical resist’. This technique works on the principle that if you print two different classes of dye onto the same fabric, one will repel the other so that full colour designs can be printed, without the tedious and sometimes impossible method of colour separation that is used in screen-printing. By mastering this technique I could then fully explore the questions I posed by working with complimentary contrasts without the fear of my colours turning ‘muddy’. Most of us know that if we put complimentary contrasting colours together (for example red +green; blue+ orange or yellow + purple) you will get hues of brown, grey or black. With this new technique I could print these colours together and still retain their integrity.
The fabrics I have printed for ‘Chromophilia’ are the results of my research. Images and shapes are derived from observations of cells and bacteria under the microscope, and then juxtaposition of scale and motif are played out in the pairs of narrow fabric lengths. The larger, more complex cloths use a variety of these marks and motifs, building up heavily coloured and patterned textiles. I liken this process to that of DNA transference in living things – some motifs and colours appear dominant, whilst others are recessive. The combinations of colours in different proportions impart tension within the artwork, which can then be further enhanced or denied by the form it inhabits. I have further exploited these concepts by embellishing textiles with stitch and buttons, bound by embroidery hoops as a framing device to infer the process of looking through a microscope and observing form, scale and repetition.