Brewed corn as a textile?

Its not only beer that is fermented these days but fabrics as well! Ingeo means “ingredients from the earth” and it is from these that an artificial fiber made from fermented corn is produced. This means not only is production kind to our world as it is a 100% renewable resource but at the end of the fibers life it is compostible. Now we can not only eat corn but wear it too. Another man made fiber that comes from and edible source is soybean fiber. Of course Tencel is a well established fiber in the market which is derived from wood pulp which means it is also environmentally friendly.

Although there is a move to grow cotton organically there are many problems with the production of fibers such as cottoin. Organisations such as Greenpeace point out that in countries such as China cotton pests are becoming resistant to pesticides. It should be remembered that cotton still uses approximately 25% of the world’s insecticide.

This is not a simple black and white issue for instance corn farming also uses pesticides which undermines my comments about Ingeo and I could not find anything on their site to indicate that their corn was organically grown.

For a brief overview of the issues visit the Danish Environmental Protection Agency which covers many of these questions.

I have barely touched this complex subject but being aware of environmental issues associated with textiles in all the phases of its life from production, manufacture, use, and their disposal is a step forward.

Many textile practitioners live by a blind manta natural fiber good, man made bad, but I for one question the use of both and try to make my decisions accordingly. So for me sometimes it is a case of wrapping up in a man made fiber and saying cheers as not all man made fibers damage the environment.

I am interested in links on this issue. So if anyone out there has information on textiles and environment let me know.

The Leeds Tapestry

The Leeds Tapestry is the site of a 10-year community based textile project of 16 panels which narrates the city’s life. The project has been facilitated and designed by Kate Russell.

As a visitor to the site you navigate via images of the panels or images of sections of the panels. By selecting various areas you are able investigate the meaning of each image closely. A detailed description of who worked that particular image or section of the panel and details about its origin or historical source. This type of accreditation and documentation is something that is often lacking in community projects particularly large ones such as this. It was a pleasure to investigate the site and be able read about individuals contributions to the project.

Textile Routes of Europe

European Textile Routes connects different European regions in a series of thematic routes. Needless to say the route I took this morning was “textiles heritage”. Following links lead to numerous large and smaller museums, institutes and educational resources. You can also choose other thematic routes such as Events, Culture, Heritage, Production and Education/Research, each subdivided into detailed categories. Although I found the interface design annoyingly cluttered, clumsy and awkward it is worth persevering with. The information on this site is worth while. In my fossick around the site I turned up numerous small museums and collections in Eastern Europe that I was unaware of.

A year ago on this day Canberra Firestorm

Today is the anniversary of the Canberra fires. All over Weston Creek people will be reflecting on that day as it has been a year since 4 people died and 491 houses were destroyed in the disaster. Already there has been a gathering at a neighbours house to mark the occasion. Today in Commonwealth park there is an official event but I don’t know anyone who is going. Our street is just going to haul out the barbeque, block off the end of the street and get together to celebrate the passing of a hard year. We were very fortunate but our neighbors weren’t as 5 houses were lost in a street of 18. According to the Canberra Times one year on only 10% of the homes destroyed have been rebuilt. We live next door to one such family. The photo above is of their sons car. However our street has gone against the odds as 3 of the 5 houses are in the process of being rebuilt and one is complete.

Mostly today I feel grateful as we were very lucky. Our house lost its garden and we had some dramatic moments on the day but were OK. At the time we were about to move into a house we had just bought. Our old place was packed up ready to move and our new place was empty. On the day we were at our old place we had some interesting moments, keeping embers at bay, while a suburb away our new house was fire licked but survived. We have some photos of the day and its immediate aftermath online which went up for friends and family. Although in both houses we were affected we were lucky and we are terribly thankful. As with many other people in the district I am still angry that we did not have more warning. The district should have gone on alert earlier than it did.

Anyway I have decided to institute a family tradition and take a photo of the garden every year on this day. To put it in context this is the way the garden looked before the fires.

This is how our home looked after clearing up the worst of the fire damage.

And followed by how it looks today…

It has been a hard year but the plus has been that the experience has bound some people together. In other ways it has divided Canberra. For those that were in the hot spot on the day we are still living with the aftermath. Re-building has been slow and the emotional fall out has been heavy with marriages breaking, teenagers rebelling and children still having nightmares. For those who were not there an attitude of get over it permeates a conversation if you make the mistake of talking about it. This binds those that were there even closer. A year on it is still in everyone’s minds. We can’t step out our door, not to the corner shops, to work, or even to the local play ground let alone pass the forest without being reminded of the horror. Reminded also of how in a few hours everything you know can be swept away by forces far greater than you can imagine.

There was a painful beauty in the ashes. Here are a few photos I took immediately after the fires. I took heaps of photos at the time thinking that I might use them as source material in a body of work but I don’t think I will revisit them. If I have the time this week I will get some of the rest online.