The Story of Natural Dyes

Modern synthetic dyes can colour almost any material in a vast range of hues. So powerful and far reaching is this technology that it comes as a surprise to learn that only 150 years ago absolutely everything was dyed naturally. In this, our third feature-length documentary, we look at an astonishing range of dye techniques - from the caracol purpura snail in Mexico to the lac insects of Laos, from jackfruit root to the most famous root of all: madder. The resurgence of natural dyes and our contemporary ideas of colour will be explored in a historical context and in relation to the rise of a global colour industry.

In Search of Lost Colour, travels the world to document the growing, harvesting, extraction and use of natural dyes. From the Bogolanfini mudprinting of Mali to the madder-root of Turkey, from cochineal insects to the rare shellfish purple, this documentary provides a look at some of the most exotic colours in existence.

In many areas the use of natural dyes is perilously close to extinction and yet traditional techniques and cultures often use processes which are environmentally sound and economically beneficial. Join us for an unforgettable exploration into the history of colour and its use.

90 minutes. 2007.

Directed by Charllotte Kwon and Tim McLaughlin. Written and edited by Tim McLaughlin.


In Search of Lost Colour: The Story of Natural Dyes