Press Releases

The Daily Telegraph, Three Acres of Colour BBC R4

The Daily Telegraph, Three Acres of Colour BBC R4

A Dyeing Wish (Wednesday, Radio 4) is another piece of non-Christmassy radio that took me under its spell this week. This gorgeous and thought- provoking documentary from producer Beaty Rubens considers whether we can move away from our international industrial dependence on modern toxic chemical dyes in products, and instead come to rely on the ancient natural dyes that our ancestors used once more. The project is inspired by the visionary fine-art photographer Garry Fabian Miller, who is, very sadly, now suffering from bladder cancer after lifelong exposure to the toxic photographic darkroom chemicals used in his work.

The processes used to make and apply toxic chemical dyes in a huge variety of circumstances can have devastating personal and environmental consequences. And so Miller’s forward-thinking project, Three Acres of Colour, situated on a farm in Wiltshire, is to try to turn the global obsession with harmful chemical dyes around. The farm is aiming to grow, on an industrial scale, the plants used to make natural dyes using traditional methods to produce the three primary colours: woad, weld and madder, to make blue, yellow and red.

The ongoing process of plant cultivation and dye production is documented with aching, tender beauty by Rubens, with soaring music by Emily Levy that draws on the songs of the larks that thrive naturally in the fields where the dye plants grow.

Dying and dyeing at the same time, this was a deeply hopeful and moving piece, with sounds that made me see colours in an entirely new way.