Janice Gunner, Liz Hewitt and Magie Relph, three friends who share a passion for using African fabrics in their work, have joined forces to present an exciting and varied exhibition at Open Door community arts space on Berkhamsted's high street, entitled African Odyssey – A Common Thread.
Each artist brought their own interpretation to the theme and incorporated actual and metaphorical travels through their textile art, in order to take the public on a unique journey across the African continent.
Magie Relph said: “We are all passionate about Africa and the varied traditional fabric and textiles we’ve discovered on our travels, both real and virtual, so we are very excited to bring this collection to Berkhamsted and allow people to embark on this African Odyssey with us.
“From the strip cloths used for traditional clothing in Burkina Faso and Mali to the Kola Nut and Indigo dyed fabrics, made by Musa Jaiteh in his family compound in the Gambia, people will be able to experience intricate and beautiful fabrics not commonly seen in the UK.”
The exhibition will showcase a variety of techniques, including hand and machine stitching, weaving and quilting, in a stunning combination of colours and textures.
The artists, who include an award-winning textiles lecturer and an author of a key work on African textiles, are also giving people a chance to get some hands-on experience of working creatively with fabrics like the ones in the exhibition.
Two workshops will give participants the opportunity to create their own fabric book and mini quilt, using a selection of beautiful fabrics.
Magie Relph, who also runs fair trade business The African Fabric Shop, will be giving a talk to open the exhibition, when she will share her extensive travel experiences to source fabrics, and uncover the people and stories behind the exhibition works.
Open Door Berkhamsted is a community arts space set up to tackle social isolation and inequality. It encourages people to be active, creative and social, whatever their circumstances, through a range of art and wellbeing activities, a donations café, exhibitions and volunteering opportunities.
Joan Fisher, Open Door manager said: “It is fabulous to be able to bring this meld of traditional African textiles and contemporary UK creativity to our gallery space.
"We hope lots of people will come and immerse themselves in this opportunity to share in the passion, beauty and excitement of this unique exhibition, or join one of the workshops to have a hands-on experience of working with these wonderful fabrics!”
African Odyssey – A Common Thread is open Monday to Saturday 10.30am till 3.30pm, from Monday, January 31, to Saturday, February 19, at Open Door, 360 High Street.
> A Common Thread - a talk by textile artist Magie Relph: Monday, January 31, 1.30pm - £7.50
> Little pieces of Africa - a workshop with textile artist Janice Gunner to create a mini quilt: Tuesday, February 8, 1.30pm till 4.30pm - £25 per person
> African Odyssey fabric book-making – a workshop with textile artist Liz Hewitt: Saturday, February 19, 10.30am till 1pm - £25 per person.