We love the stories behind the artwork. Being very much a group of process-driven textile artists, there is always so much more to our work than meets the eye. Case and point - ‘Heartwood’ by Claire Munnings (@tinkermay_ ) for Extraction which closed yesterday: “I was reading a true story of The Osage Nation, a Native American tribe in the United States. From 1921 to 1925 around 60 or more Osage native Americans were killed by people intent on taking over the great wealth of the Osage, whose land was producing valuable oil that earned lucrative annual royalties. The story was a sad one that I couldn’t finish.
Soon after my father was describing a strange fruit known as a ‘horse apple’ on my uncle’s farm. The fruit is typically not eaten by humans and rarely by foraging animals, giving it distinction as an anachronistic ghost of evolution.
This all piqued my interest when I discovered that it was also known as the Osage Orange and could be used for natural dying. I made the correlation between The Osage Tribe and was surprised to discover the tree was growing in Australia, its uses relatively untapped, the fruit falling to the ground doing nothing much but rotting into the earth.
The Osage Nation used the heartwood for dying and also bow making. In Arkansas, in the early 19th century, a good Osage bow was worth a horse and a blanket.
I decided I wanted to find a tree to extract the dye and one day I saw one in a local park, its distinctive fruit helping me make an obvious distinction. I pulled my car over and collected the fruit bringing it home with great excitement. I soon discovered the fruit did nothing at all and that what I really needed was the heartwood.
Soon after I determined to get myself a piece of wood. I did this, took my branch home and whittled the heartwood out of it. It was a slow, difficult process but knowing the traditional uses of the wood I felt the process as close to traditional textile production as I could get (continued in comments)...