Nabil is using the Garden’s collection of plants to create a dye database of colourants, using plants inspired by 14-16th century dye recipes. He is testing and profiling these plants dyes, using his findings to create a colour catalogue and a separate document showing the different stages of the dye process.
Nature is more than an inspiration for my work. It’s part of it.
Nabil also is working on exciting projects in partnership with the Botanic Garden throughout the year.
He created ink from Newton’s Apple Tree, which he called ‘Newton’s Gold’, to coincide with Apple Day 2023. To make the ink, Nabil peeled away some of the bark, then soaked it for a day and a half in his workshop in CUBG before grinding it, boiling it to release the tannin and adding alum. He used the new ink to create an apple installation consisting of 68 apples, to mark the age of the tree before it was blown down. The apples are replicas of a cast made from an apple taken from the tree in 2016 and the installation was on display for the first time at Apple Day in the Botanic Garden.
He has also been creating and curating an exhibition space called ‘The Hut of Curiosity’ which will exhibit colour and dyes made from the plants growing in Cambridge University Botanic Garden. This display was launched for Cambridge Botanic Lights but will continue to be developed throughout Nabil’s residency, alongside his other nature-inspired art installations.
During his 14-month residency, Nabil will be exploring the Garden in a way that’s never been done before – discovering new colourants made from plants for his project ‘DYE – nature, myth and climate’. He will be sharing the results with visitors, researchers and artists through events, performances and an open-source public colour catalogue database linked to the Garden’s Living Collections Portal.
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