Textile exhibition takes Berkhamsted on an African Odyssey


Three renowned textile artists from across the UK will present a new body of work at Berkhamsted this month, using fabrics and inspiration from Africa as their ‘common thread’.

Janice Gunner, Liz Hewitt and Magie Relph, three friends who share a passion for using African fabrics in their work, have joined forces to present an exciting and varied exhibition at the Open Door community art space on the main street of Berkhamsted, entitled African Odyssey – A Common Fil.

Each artist brought their own interpretation of the theme and incorporated real and metaphorical journeys through their textile art, to take the audience on a unique journey across the African continent.

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Band of Bones by Liz Hewitt

Magie Relph said: “We are all passionate about Africa and the varied traditional fabrics and textiles we have discovered on our travels, both real and virtual, so we are very excited to bring this collection to Berkhamsted and to allow people to embark on this Africa Odyssey with us.

“From strips of fabric used for traditional clothing in Burkina Faso and Mali to fabrics dyed with kola nut and indigo, made by Musa Jaiteh in his family compound in The Gambia, people will be able to experience intricate and beautiful fabrics not commonly seen in the UK.”

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The exhibition will showcase a variety of techniques, including hand and machine sewing, weaving and quilting, in a stunning combination of colors and textures.

Janice Gunner Sukuta Celebrations – Quilt Workshop

The artists, who include an award-winning textile lecturer and an author of a key book on African textiles, also give people the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of working creatively with fabrics like those in the exhibition.

Two workshops will give participants the opportunity to create their own fabric book and mini quilt, using a selection of beautiful fabrics.

Magie Relph, who also runs a fair trade business The African fabric shop, will give a talk to open the exhibition, when she shares her many experiences of traveling to source fabrics and discovering the people and stories behind the works in the exhibition.

Open Door Berkhamsted is a community art space set up to fight social isolation and inequality. It encourages people to be active, creative and social, whatever their circumstances, through a range of arts and wellness activities, a donations café, exhibitions and volunteering opportunities.

Magic Relph Kotokotoe

Joan Fisher, Head of Open Door, said: “It’s fabulous to be able to bring this mix of traditional African textiles and contemporary British creativity into our gallery space.

“We hope many people will come and immerse themselves in this opportunity to share the passion, beauty and excitement of this unique exhibit, or join one of the workshops to get hands-on experience working with these wonderful fabrics!”

African Odyssey – A Common Thread is open Monday to Saturday from 10.30am to 3.30pm, Monday 31 January to Saturday 19 February, at Open Door, 360 High Street.

> A Common Thread – a talk by textile artist Magie Relph: Monday 31 January, 1.30pm – £7.50

> Little pieces of Africa – a workshop with textile artist Janice Gunner to create a mini quilt: Tuesday 8 February, 1.30pm-4.30pm – £25 per person

> Fabric Bookmaking African Odyssey – a workshop with textile artist Liz Hewitt: Saturday 19th February, 10.30am-1pm – £25 per person.


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