As a visitor assistant working at IKON Gallery in Birmingham it was a pleasure and a privilege to assist again in one of their regular Saturday workshops which this time was held in conjunction with and as a response to the current Tapa Barkcloth Paintings from the Pacific exhibition. The workshop was given by Rosanna Raymond, a performance and installation artist, writer and poet from New Zealand whose work centres around and is influenced by the traditions and culture of the islands of the Pacific inparticular the amazing painted barkcloths. Rosanna brought along a selection of barkcloths from her extensive collection some of which are traditional and some contemporary. I especially loved a pair of jeans she had made from the cloth.
Before work commenced Rosanna took participants on a tour of the exhibition stopping at each barkcloth and explaining in detail the culture and traditions and what life was like for the women islanders, for it was indeed the women, not the men, from each of the villages of the Pacific Islands that would produce the cloth in great reams.
|Rosanna and Jo hidden behind one of the barkcloths|
Rosanna also gave a presentation of slides showing typical examples of how the barkcloth was worn and used.
|Typical ceremonial barkcloth dress|
|Example of how the barkcloth can be used in contemporary fashion|
|Frockcoat made from Barkcloth|
|Close up of one of Rosanna's barkcloths|
On then to the nitty gritty of printing and painting on to fabric when everyone started to literally get their hands dirty, having taken their inspiration from the designs and motifs seen in the exhibition. You can see below stencils cut from banana leaves which was one of the traditional methods used for printing, dating back to the late 19th century.
Below are the fruits of everyone's labour displayed in our makeshift gallery.