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William Morris Social Fabric exhibition and Blocking Printing workshop

Both the volunteers and ESOL ( English for Speakers of Other Languages) group at Significant Seams have been to private viewings of the current Social Frabic exhibition at the William Morris Gallery, in Walthamstow.

It was a great opportunity to learn about types of cotton fabric from eastern and southern Africa. The exhibition primarily covers two types: Kanga and Shweshwe. They are rectangular and used as head coverings, a sling for carrying a baby, or other forms of clothing. 

Kanga have patterns plus a message which may be humorous, relevant to the occasion at which it is worn, an instruction to those reading it, or even letting it be known to the husband that the wife is fertile. The way that messages are on the Kangas, seemed much like how we have messages on t-shirts.

The distinguishing feature of the Shweshwe is the indigo dye.

There was one piece with particularly attractive colours and pattern, which combined to form a picture of a queue of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Amazing artwork!

The ESOL group had the opportunity to do a Block Printing workshop afterwards. They used fabric, a variety of coloured ink, and blocks with different geometric patterns to create printed designs.

“I found block printing very creative and interesting, and learnt how different ways of printing can be done.” – Jen, a volunteer and workshop participant

The visits included refreshments, from the Tea Room; I highly recommend the cakes; really delicious.

Many thanks to the William Morris Gallery for their hospitality, the opportunity to both see this fascinating exhibition and try out block printing, and to Significant Seams for organising this for us.

100 year old printing block

 

Written by significantseams

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