April 12, 2021

Plants and Colour - Flora Arbuthnott - BS046

Plants and Colour - Flora Arbuthnott - BS046

This week I'm joined by Flora Arbuthnott from www.plantsandcolour.co.uk.

Having met Flora a few years ago, I was keen for her to be a guest on the podcast. We discuss the many similarities between her practices of creating colour from plants and my practice of building homes, from plants. Flora also goes through the process of extracting some colour from a flower so that you can try it at home.   

Flora's Bio: I make dyes, inks, and paints out of plants for drawing, painting, printing, and dyeing textiles and paper. I explore wild and cultivated plants to produce a variety of vibrant colours. Observing and learning from the plants that grow around us, I came to this practice through a desire to connect with the land where I live. Plants such as meadowsweet and buddleia flowers, oak galls, and dock roots, or growing dye plants in my garden such as madder, woad, and coreopsis.

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Flora Arbuthnott

My name is Flora Arbuthnott. I make dyes, inks, and paints out of plants for drawing, painting, printing, and dyeing textiles and paper. I explore wild and cultivated plants to produce a variety of vibrant colours. Observing and learning from the plants that grow around us, I came to this practice through a desire to connect with the land where I live. Plants such as meadowsweet and buddleia flowers, oak galls, and dock roots, or growing dye plants in my garden such as madder, woad, and coreopsis.

I grew up in the countryside in Gloucestershire and was taught to paint and print by my mother when I was a child. I then moved away to study product design at Glasgow School of Art. Following this, I sought to reconnect with my roots and with the natural raw elements of where the materials of my work come from. I was drawn to Devon to study permaculture (Earth Activist Training), horticulture (Schumacher College), and wild plants (Ffyona Campbell & Rhizome).

I created Plants & Colour to bring my love of nature connection and visual art & design together through the craft of plant based colour. I have a studio near Totnes in South Devon where I explore and play. Creating drawings, paintings, and prints. These are all one-off explorations of plant-based surface application bringing together natural dyeing, ink and paint making, and printmaking.

I now work with artists and crafts people around the world who wish to transition their practice to working with locally available plants. I share recipes, and a process for exploring the possibilities of the plants that accessible to grow or forage where you live. Through this teaching work, I have created an online global community of botanical ink and paint makers, dyers, and printmakers, sharing stories of plant connection, colour explorations, and beautiful artwork created from handmade paints and inks. Creating learning communities is a very important part of my practice. Creating community for sharing stories of our experiences with plants, bring plant wisdom back in to common knowledge again.

My interest in plants and fungi go beyond colour. I love to forage for food and make herbal medicines. To be wild is to know how to look after ourselves. To be in relationship with the plants growing around us intimately. There are no weeds, only medicines, foods, dye plants, and craft materials. Being with the flow of the seasons.