The TextielMuseum reveals the world behind textile dyeing in new exhibition

9 December 2021

‘To Dye For’ runs from 9 April until 2 October 2022 in the TextielMuseum in Tilburg (NL)

From the sofa you sit on to the clothes you wear, textiles are everywhere and are always dyed. The TextielMuseum presents the exhibition ‘To Dye For’ in which visitors dive into the origins of and stories behind the dyes in our textiles, based on old and new art, fashion and design. In the exhibition, which is suitable for all ages, the museum explores the dyeing process and the beauty and dilemmas of colour in textiles.

Textile dyes have an immense impact on human and environmental health. The exhibition explores the challenges of textile dyeing and various solutions developed by artisans, designers, scientists and artists past and present. The exhibition presents a wide range of fashion, art and design objects with dyed or coloured textiles, both from the museum’s collection as well as new works by international artists and designers. The exhibition is all about dyes that set your senses on edge. With a special family game where visitors follow the colour trail that brings the colours in textiles to life, activating all the senses in the process, the exhibition is an experience for the whole family.

The world of colour in textiles

The exhibition, which takes red, blue and yellow as its starting point, will uncover the world behind colour sources and dyeing techniques in different countries and periods, based on art, fashion or design piece. For example, contemporary scientific innovations such as dyeing with pigment-producing bacteria will be presented alongside indigenous traditions based on natural colourants. The exhibition will also reflect on the consequences of centuries of textile dyeing for people and the planet – from the relationship with the colonial past and (modern) slavery to global (water) pollution – and showcase sustainable solutions and innovations.

New work by Claudy Jongstra and other artists and designers

Artist Claudy Jongstra is known worldwide for her expertise in natural dyeing, which is reflected in her acclaimed installations and wall hangings made of felted wool. For the TextielMuseum, Jongstra is developing a new work that is not only made from local wool and plant-based dyes but will also be woven in the TextielLab. This new work will be featured in the exhibition. Artists Nan Groot Antink, Antonio José Guzman in collaboration with Iva Jankovic, Angelica Falkeling, Aboubakar Fofana, Aliki van der Kruijs and designer Nienke Hoogvliet are also creating new works for the exhibition. In addition, recent work will be on display by makers such as Porfirio Guttiérez, Susana Mejía, Living Color (Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar) in collaboration with Puma, and Studio Formafantasma.

Growing natural dye plants

Visitors will also be able to explore the Verfplantentuin, a neighbourhood greenhouse on the museum grounds where local residents grow plants and herbs for natural dyes. With these, artist Nan Groot Antink, known for her large monochrome wall hangings, will create a new art installation together with the participants, which will gradually take shape in the exhibition. The TextielMuseum also organises various activities for young and old around the Verfplantentuin.

Fun for the whole family

The youngest visitors can experience colours in textiles by embarking on a multi-sensory exploration through the exhibition, with a family game where you not only look, but also listen, feel, taste and smell by following the colour trail. In this way, you will discover that people now paint with bacteria and how they used to paint with plants, for example. How many kinds of black can you discover? And did you know that the most beautiful red is made from a tiny scale insect, which is also used to colour M&Ms and pink cookies? And which is better, natural dyes or artificial ones? Discover all the answers playfully in a treasure hunt for the whole family from 9 April to 2 October 2022 at the TextielMuseum in Tilburg.

The exhibition ‘To Dye For’ is made possible by structural support from Provincie Noord-Brabant, Gemeente Tilburg and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Verfplantentuin is being realised with the support of the Friends of the TextielMuseum Foundation.