ConnectZA, British Council ResidencyGumboot Indigo: 

Costume/Textile Design and Jewelry Making Project

 Gumboot Indigo is a reflection on African aesthetic that goes beyond geographic-cultural identity into investigations on class. The current world of African design is largely curated by African elites, who often lack experience, perspective or concern to begin addressing the issue  of class. The work takes inspiration from the historic visual and textile landscape of Johannesburg, where the collaboration took place, grounding aesthetically in the uniforms of labor workers and miners. Through this project I explore my interest in textile semiotics, textile applications of lasercutting, and locally sourced- waste materials. Majority of the materials  were sourced from thrift-stores around Johannesburg, incorporating the material-object history of the space and the designs were created entirely without the use of a sewing machine. Special considerations were given through my research to the importance of corporeal communication as evidenced by the origins of Gumboot dance, used by miners in South Africa for communication and safety assurance.

Though initially a project in aesthetics, this project unfolded as a work on creating community by crossing timelines in history. Through a thoughtful collaboration based in feminist ethics of care and pan-africanism, the most valuable outcome was its documentation of the relationship I cultivated with my collaborator. Through this project I gained first hand experience on the potential of healing through making. What I gained was a deeper understanding of how creatively centered community-building serves as a healing contrast to the isolation and lack of self-expression encouraged by a trauamtized psyche. This lesson still heavily informs my work, along with the experience of working with little to no access to traditional clothing machinery, as well as the importance of working with historic, global, and local considerations in mind. 

Photography John Magati (KE

Illustration Olivia Mutharin (UK)

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