Of the Ground 4

Latest News

Plymouth textile experts launch sustainable dye garden

Academics and students from Arts University Plymouth partner with National Trust Saltram to better understand natural alternatives to synthetic dyes
<p dir="ltr">Academics and students specialising in textile design at Arts University Plymouth have created a new plant garden for natural dye as part of their project ‘Of the Ground’. The project is developed in collaboration with <a href="https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/devon/saltram" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">National Trust Saltram</a>, one of the South West’s most loved National Trust properties, and sited at Plymouth’s community farm, <a href="https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/poole-farm" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Poole Farm</a>, based in Derriford Community Park.</p> <p dir="ltr">The ‘Of the Ground’ project, which is supported by Research England’s Knowledge Exchange Funding and builds on a collaborative project initiated in 2022 by the arts university and National Trust Saltram as part of the Green Minds project, which is a partnership led by Plymouth City Council and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, Urban Innovative Actions initiative.<br /></p>
L to R Fiona Lloyd Emma Gribble Dr Martin Stott and Arts University Plymouth s Tifaine Dickinson

From left to right - Fiona Lloyd, Emma Gribble, Dr Martin Stott and Arts University Plymouth's Tifaine Dickinson

<p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-textile-design">BA (Hons) Textile Design</a> Course Leader and textile designer, <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/people/emma-gribble">Emma Gribble</a>, came up with the idea for the project. Closely supported in the planning and planting stages by Technical Demonstrator Fiona Lloyd, Emma led her students in work to establish a natural dye garden at Poole Farm, combining Arts University Plymouth’s commitment to teaching sustainable processes with the use of local heritage-informed planting<br /></p>
Emma Gribble and Fiona L Loyd

Emma Gribble and Fiona LLoyd

<p dir="ltr">The National Trust supported the project research and shared a planting list from Saltram’s archives, containing details of species used in the creation of the house’s original garden. The use of heritage-inspired plants will create a colour palette firmly rooted in Saltram and its surrounding landscape.<br /></p>
Of the Ground 1
<p dir="ltr">The textile design students and academics, who will manage the dye garden on an ongoing basis, recently visited the garden to plant and sow seeds in preparation for spring. They were joined by volunteers and staff from Poole Farm and the National Trust, with expert guidance on planting from Dr Martin Stott, Head Gardener at Saltram.<br /></p>
Of the Ground 5
<p dir="ltr">Planted in raised beds, the ‘Of the Ground’ dye garden will include a variety of plants such as woad, dyer's coreopsis, daffodils, weld, marigolds, tansy, and madder, all sourced by local suppliers in the South West. The selection of plants were chosen in consultation with natural dye plant experts Nature’s Rainbow and natural dye guru Jane Deane. The beds were designed and constructed by the staff and volunteers at Poole Farm, including an accessible bed for wheelchair users.<br /></p>
Of the Ground 2
<p dir="ltr">Emma Gribble said: “As international awareness grows of how harmful many synthetic dyes can be to the natural world, I believe strongly that educators working within the textile and fashion industries have a responsibility to lead the way in teaching students alternative dye methods that are more sustainable and less damaging to the environment. This new partnership with National Trust Saltram actively investigates this. The project tests on a small scale how Arts University Plymouth can lead the way in encouraging students and textile practitioners to make more balanced decisions by building knowledge and awareness about alternative dye methods.”<br /></p>
Of the Ground 4
<p dir="ltr">As the ‘Of the Ground’ dye garden matures through the seasons, it will become a permanent resource, available for all Arts University Plymouth students to use. The range of colours it produces will be specific and unique to the local landscape.<br /></p> <p dir="ltr">The ‘Of the Ground’ dye garden project is one of a number of Knowledge Exchange projects that will see expert staff from across Arts University Plymouth share skills and knowledge in a way that benefits society and the economy, forming lasting and sustainable partnerships. This is an Arts University Plymouth Knowledge Exchange project supported by Research England’s Knowledge Exchange Funding for Smaller Providers.<br /></p>