She has been traipsing around four merino sheep stations, to gather the vegetation needed for the dyed wool and fabrics, that form part of an exhibition being staged in Wellington later this month.
The exhibition Textiles: a new generation, at Bowen House from October 17 to November 22, showcases the best work from the textile design programme offered at Massey’s College of Creative Arts.
A year ago Ms Johnstone, from Wellington, spent time travelling around sheep stations near Whanganui, the McKenzie Basin, and the northern and southern tips of Lake Wakatipu in Central Otago, collecting plant samples to form the basis of new colourings for fabrics and textiles.
Up to 60 samples were then brought back to Wellington, where the 24-year-old chopped them up and boiled them to extract their colour. Merino wool and white merino fabric was then mixed with the dyed hot water solution to reveal a palette of colours.
“I was looking for the sense of place through colour, and climate, soil and what region the plants come from, all have an effect on that.”
The colours and matching fabrics were then fixed to separate colour charts as an “authentic way” to reflect the particular sheep station they originated from.
Ms Johnstone first exhibited her work at an exhibition earlier this year for postgraduate design students that included a self-published thesis presentation for her project as part of her Master in Design.
“I really like working with merino wool, I like the fact it’s from New Zealand, is a sustainable fibre, dyes well and is good to knit with,” she says.
Her travels also piqued an interest in wool branding as a way of linking place through colour, as well as branding in the wine industry where labels typically base their identity on what part of the country they come from.
“Ideally I’d like to get into the wool industry and work with dye or knitted textiles.”
Textiles: a new generation, 10am-4pm, Wednesday to Friday, October 17- November 22 2012, Bowen House, Wellington.
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