The African fabric shop : a little gem in the heart of YorkshirePosted on
Yorkshire is known for many things: its green hilly pastures where sheep peacefully graze all day long, its cycling tradition or its infamous dish, the Yorkshire pudding. I headed there for another reason: for Yorkshire harbors a little gem: a small African fabric shop.
Nestled in the small town of Meltham, at the end of a scenic drive, the shop is located in an office building. I had given prior notice of my visit and upon arrival, I met Isobel, the shop assistant and Magie who owns the shop with her Husband.
The tour of the shop that I was eagerly expecting turned out to be a lot more: a virtual travel through Africa and through various traditions of cultural expression. Modern and vintage textiles, beads, baskets. The shop abounds with various types of African textiles and encapsulates the wealth and depth of the African textile tradition.
The world has taken a keen interest in African culture as of late and African textiles have proven to be a new discovery and a source of great inspiration for some Designers. However, most of the spotlight has been centered on some well known textiles such as: Wax prints, Kente cloth, Kuba cloth, Mud cloth and Indigo cloth. Beyond these five textiles, there is a wealth of weaving, dying and printing practices that are embodied in numerous other fabrics all over the continent. Some of which are available in the shop and online. It is that variety that sets the shop apart, along with the wealth of knowledge Magie has accumulated over years of travel in Africa, meeting the Designers, Craftsman, Artisans and Weavers.
Here are some other African textiles you may not have heard about:
These beautiful Cotton fabrics, initially made in Manchester, are now made in South Africa. They are available in and Blue/Indigo (the only color they used to be made of) and a variety of other modern colours : Red, Orange and Turquoise .
Still in South Africa, Langa lapu or “Sun Cloth” is a nature inspired print. Its distinctive and unique patterns are made by exposing the died fabric to the sun while it is covered by various leaves.
Cotton Fabric made in Ghana
This natural Cloth is brown and brittle and made of the bark harvested from tropical fig trees.
There were many others, like the West African Batik (mainly from the Gambia and Ghana), the Ethiopian Gabi Cloth and the woven Batakari strips from Ghana. Some of this information is available online and in various books. But for all our technological advances, nothing comes close to having a face-to-face conversation along with a sensorial experience of touching and feeling those textiles and getting a better understanding of the creative process behind them.
Before you contemplate a long drive to Yorkshire to visit the shop, check the world textile day website, as the team might be bringing a small selection of the contents of the shop to an event near you….. and you guessed it; I am planning to attend one of these events so there is more to come.
To learn more or purchase some African Textiles, contact the Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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