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Indigo/Extraction Politics Series (2019/20) – 3m x 3m, raw indigo, stretched/primed canvas, two books found in the British High Commission Residence: India – The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Volume II, ‘Quit India’ and Volume IV, 'The Bengal Famine and the New Viceroyalty'

 

Notes on the process: The leaves of the indigo plant are soaked/fermented, the liquor is allowed to dry into powder or chunks. These chunks of pigment can then be used in various ways.  I travelled with CARE Bangladesh to northwest Bangladesh in October 2019 to visit a project which aims to make sure the benefits of growing, extracting, dyeing and trading indigo dye directly accrue to the stakeholders of the enterprise. This is where I procured the raw pigment. October 2019 – Feb 2020: from time to time I rubbed the chunks of dried pigment directly into the canvas, a process that abraded my white hands and fingers, creating sores like a dark blue ‘skinned knee’ that took a long time to heal. When I left Dhaka in March 2020, I set up a fermentation process using the condensed pigment, not knowing I wouldn’t be able to return until September 2020. When I returned, I was in quarantine for two weeks. During this time, I used rags to rub layer after layer of the stain onto the canvas, creating s series of overlapping washes. At first, the stain is green, like the patina of ageing copper, it gradually becomes deep blue/black over time as it oxidates. The fermented solution smells like raw sewage, which eventually mellows to a sort of ‘cut grass’ smell.

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