Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at Textile Society of America 11th Biennial Symposium: Textiles as Cultural Expressions, September 4-7, 2008, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Copyright © 2008 Di McPherson


I was born in Tasmania, Australia’s island state, and that geographical reality is the primary feature of my art work and my dyeing. Although I have also lived and worked in Britain, and in Africa, the natural world around me has colored my aesthetic sense. Dye research and conference participation, and dye workshops I have taught and attended in Canada, the USA, Japan, India, and elsewhere, have helped me integrate my artistic ideas with the ecology of the natural environment which sustains the organisms I use for dyeing. That environment also sustains and supports me, as a fiber artist, physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

Long fascinated with the African mud cloth, Bogolan Fini, this paper discusses how I have adapted the mud and soil of Australia to create my own fiber paints. Professionally trained as a graphic designer, I re-discovered my passion for paints and pigments, and for fiber, after attending a workshop taught by a Canadian dyer who came to Australia. Her innovative techniques made me realize I could re-invent my own approach to color. In the process, I rediscovered my own artistic voice. Mud colors are bold. They reflect climate and geography and they also demonstrate the impact of color on how we see ourselves as artists, and how others see the colors we create and respond to the art work accordingly.

This paper is about the adventure that is my daily life: making color that mirrors the pristine region of the world where I live and work. This work ties me to centuries of women who also made color. Their story is also mine.