Case Study

Growing Colour Together – Kirkburton


For an introduction to the Growing Colour Together project as a whole, please have a look at the project case study.

The communities of Kirkburton Parish have been learning about planting for dye gardens, how to create natural dyes, how to use them on fabric and how they might use mending or decorative techniques to extend the lifespan of textiles to wear or use in the home.

Through a series of workshops, participants learnt about which dye plants to consider, when would be the best time to grow, planting rotation, harvesting, storage and which bits to use to make natural dyes. And as a result of this, a new ‘seed bank’ has been set up for the community in All Hallows Church.

The next stage of the work involved learning about natural dyes and trying out soy painting, shibori and bundle dyeing.  The group developed an understanding of how mordants impact the colour and permanence of the dye, the difference between stains and dyes, how to use the dyes and the power of colour modifiers such as acid, metal or alkaline baths.

They then explored techniques that enhance naturally dyed fabrics, allowing them to consider how to create items that could be worn or used in the home. For this, they looked into sashiko and applique techniques, as well as learning about boro and how it is a useful tool in mending textiles. They discussed the benefits of colour that is not created to last decades and how over-dyeing can be used to reinvigorate wardrobes each year as a small element in a sustainable approach to textiles.

The Exhibition
The exhibition Botanical: A Contemporary Approach to Natural Dyeing was in two parts.

First, the large-scale installation Modified that explored a minimal approach with the use of only three dyes. Coreopsis created softer yellow and grey tones and is a plant that can be grown locally.  Turmeric is a rich and vibrant gold-toned stain that is readily available locally.  Logwood provided rich purples and deep, warm grey hues as a contrast to the yellows.

With varying weights of cotton, they moved and interacted with the historic and central community setting of All Hallows Church in Kirkburton.

The Products
The second part was a showcase of products made from naturally dyed fabrics and included elements made by individuals who took part in the workshops.  These elements have been utilised as pockets.

Each of the items (a bag, apron and a top) have been created with a design based on a rectangle to minimise any waste.  For longer term use, the addition of mending or over-dyeing would add to their charm.

The Community
The bunting outside the church was created by Year 5 children of Kirkburton First School.  Also, within the grounds of All Hallows Church, you will find the start of a new garden, which will include plants for dye. 

The groups involved were:

  • Burton Environment Group
  • Burton Village Hall
  • Cliffe House
  • Kirkburton First School
  • Kirkburton Library
  • Parochial Church Council
  • Skelmanthorpe Library
  • University of Huddersfield
  • Eco Hub
  • U3A (University of the Third Age)

the artists

Seiko Kinoshita
Seiko is a Japanese artist based in Sheffield. She creates large installations and sculpture often using traditional textiles and craft techniques.
She is interested in how slow and dyeing craft techniques have a future in our ever-changing society and how traditional techniques can exist within contemporary art arena.
She has been enjoying learning about natural dye through this project and is excited to utilise it within her practice.

Nicola Perren
Nicola Perren is an artist, designer and maker who paints, draws and explores textiles within their work.  Nicola has been making paints, pigments, dyes and inks for many years and over the past eight years has developed particular expertise in quilt making.
They are interested in creating work and developing designs that enable the public to engage with making autonomously and for it to be accessible.


15-20 people attended each workshop session and a core group of 6-8 from the Burton environment group worked in the community garden. Around 40-50 attended community events throughout the project from January – June 2023.  

The project saw excellent support from the Burton Environment Group and All Hallows Church in Kirkburton, providing support, connections and locations to hold activity along the way. Cllr John Taylor and Kirkburton Library provided support to community groups wanting to get involved in the project. Many organisations had their own projects and gardens already established or underway, meaning many groups wanted to take the ideas back to their own locations rather than work together towards one collective outcome. With this in mind we decided to set up workshops across the Kirkburton Parish and signpost all local organisations and individuals to this activity, so the workshops traveled around and reached a wider audience. 

Throughout these well planned and in-depth sessions participants took away dyeing knowledge, resources, lesson plans, plant knowledge and sewing techniques, all designed to increase awareness of natural dyes and their processes and outcomes. Changing consumer habits and increasing awareness of mending and re-dyeing techniques.

How do you feel after the session?
“Relaxed & glad I came as I’ve learnt so much and enjoyed the processes”
“Excited to start dyeing some of my own designs” 
“Very happy- Amazed!” 
Inspired! I loved this session and wanted to do more. 2 hours went by in a blink!” 
“Filled with ideas/inspiration”  

What new skills or knowledge have you gained?
New way to do applique and products to use, use of grids and templates for sashiko, ways to reduce knotting” 
Putting the theory into actually doing it helps me to remember what to do and how to do it”
Loads! Too much to list! Mordants, copper, flowers, loads!”

Any other feedback
“Very well organised, we did several activities and kept to time! And had time to learn the theory. A very well planned and fun session. Thank you! “
“Absolutely loved this workshop. Nicola was fantastic and very inspiring” 
“Exciting to learn new things. Lovely leader: very knowledgeable and approachable.
“Excellent workshop, Very informative.”


The legacy of this project starts with the fantastic artwork and collection made  by artists and community together. Following on from the showcase event, the fabrics can be re-modelled and made into further products as they have been left close to their raw state. The product collection is available to be transported to different locations in Kirkburton or into the wider Kirklees area as a tool to communicate the use of natural dyes, particularly those grown in the local community.

The large scale exhibits were breathtaking hung in the church building, fitting with the historic connection to the land and area of Kirkbuton. We would like to see these permanently installed in Kirkburton and exhibited by the community. We are in conversation with local Cllr John Taylor regarding this. 

This community also took part in many community events from online international talks, community planting dye garden workshops, green prescribing sessions and foraging sessions. These were all designed to support the legacy of our artists and community members involved in the project, to support the development of their skills and knowledge base around natural dyes moving forward. 

We set up a permanent seed swap station in the All Hallows Church and supported the development of their new community reflection dye garden, supported with raised beds, planters, plants, gardening equipment and resources. This is still in development by the Burton Environment Group and to be developed by the community into a wider community reflection garden and natural dye garden. 

The gardens are left in such a way that they will develop, plants will establish over time and flourish with care and maintenance from the community.

Check out the Growing Colour Together case study for more about the legacy of the project as a whole.

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