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Handmade Experimental Brushes and Botanical Inks

With Ross Belton 

Sat 4 March 2023
10:30 am
- 4:30 pm


The Workshop

On Shoji Hamada’s return to Japan, he developed a practice based on using only local resources – from the clay he used to the glazes he created and even his own homemade brushes. During Hamada’s 3 years in St Ives, he became good friends with Ethel Mairet, who even wove his wedding suit.

During this workshop, you’ll use your own handmade experimental brushes and botanical inks inspired by Ethel Mairet’s original recipes. Ross will demonstrate how to create natural inks and then you’ll make your own experimental brushes, before undertaking a series of mark-making exercises.

Mark making refers to the different lines, patterns and textures we create in art. They are the building blocks we use to express our creativity, whether painting, drawing or preparing work for print. Creating your own experimental brushes frees you from traditional ways of drawing and creates tools that can produce random and unexpected results. We will be using natural and recycled materials to create these handmade brushes – anything can be used from garden refuse, and kitchen plastics to sea salvage.

This is a hands-on experience and you will be creating your own brushes during the class.

Tickets include lunch and all materials, however, we encourage you to collect a selection of materials to use and bring them along with you to this workshop.

The Workshop Leader

Ross Belton works with the materials he finds around him. Local resources and a sense of place are key to both sustainability and minimising his artistic footprint. Influenced by his African childhood and the traditional crafts and techniques of Japan, his art embraces flaws and explores the beauty and history of his resources.

Based in Islington, London, his pieces are created with found objects and natural foliage, both homegrown and gathered through the changing seasons. The raw materials lead the work, and in his hands, they are retrained, twisted and woven into something new. Each piece of wrapped fabric, each stitch, each mark creates uniqueness. They form a visual language, growing and evolving. Without a final endpoint, he is free to let his work evolve, leading us to a new appreciation and way of seeing things.

Ross has exhibited nationally and internationally as a solo artist and with several textile groups, including Natural Selection, Studio 21 and Prism Textiles. Ross assists Jenny Dean, teaching a natural dyeing course at Ditchling Museum Art + Craft and has recently established the Nomadic Dye Garden at the Florence Trust, where he offers a range of outdoor creative workshops.

Shōji Hamada: A Japanese Potter in Ditchling runs 22 October 2022 – 16 April 2023 

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