Act of Dyeing – Studio Kura, Artist-in-Residency

Agnes Ersson (b. 1987 in Tyresö, Sweden) received her BFA in Textiles at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in 2015. She work in a range between the textile field and figurative oil painting. With an interest in dance and studies in somatic practices, her interest in the physical body and bodily experiences is as important as the physical materiality of her work. This physicality of body and material lays the foundation of the narrative of her work, and could be interpreted as a way of exploring dualities.

Karl Patric Näsman (b. 1986 in Örebro, Sweden) lives and works in Stockholm. He holds an MFA (2015) from Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions both in Sweden and internationally in Crans-Montana (CH), Shanghai, Tokyo and Utrecht. In 2016, Näsman was awarded the Fredrik Roos Art Grant, presenting his work at Moderna Museet Malmö. Recently in 2021 he initiated the exchange project Unfolding Image between Swedish artists and a Japanese Byobu artisan in Stockholm. This autumn, he and the other artists will travel to Japan to present the whole exchange project at the Embassy of Sweden in Tokyo.

In this exhibition, Agnes Ersson & Karl Patric Näsman will be presenting new works made with natural dyes and pigments on textile from the ongoing project “Act of Dyeing” at Studio Kura.

Today we take it for granted that we can produce any color, where each one lies on a color chart with countless of hues. The synthetic dye revolution has meant quick and cheap ways to produce new vibrant colors. But previously, how did the colors around us look like on the textiles that we wore and decorated our homes with? What was our relationship with color back then? All colors carry a symbolism that varies depending on the actual environment and context. A color can be synonymous with belonging and it can speak of a certain function – colors are part of our vocabulary in other words. Nowadays it is possible to create extremely pigmented colors, but is it also possible to make them in a more traditional way of producing color, through plant dyeing?

During our stay at Studio Kura, we have worked on organic textiles such as cotton, linen, silk and wool, making natural dyes prepared with local plants and pigments that we have found along the roads and in the bamboo forests around Itoshima. Some of the plants used are goldenrod, leaves and stalks from ramie, black beans, chestnut, red cedar bark, bamboo, khaki-fruit and Shellac. Through time-consuming preparations such as fixing the fabrics with salts and setting up dye baths with the plants, the fabrics have been processed up to a full week at a time. Some of the additives we have worked with in our dye baths are iron water, potassium aluminum sulfate, tartaric acid and vinegar to enhance the natural colors. 

The final result of the long dyeing processes is then sewn together and stretched upon wooden frames, presenting them as a series of paintings from the Act of Dyeing project.