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Talks by Magie Relph

Talks for textile, patchwork and quilting groups: or anyone interested in textiles and design

My talks last about 1 hr 15 min. Depending on the talk, I'll show a variety of textiles, artefacts and quilts. All of my talks are 'handson'. You'll actually get to handle the pieces and examine them closeup. Some talks include digital images from our travels and research in Africa.

And don't worry: I always bring along some African fabrics, beads and baskets for sale.

Magie Relph at quilt museum in York Magie Relph speaking at the Quilters' Guild Museum, York

African Threads

Over the years I've been amazed by the work created by many quilters and artists using 'my' African fabrics. So let's take a journey across Africa through some of the beautiful quilts made by friends of The African Fabric Shop. Just like a proud grandma, I'll even tell you some of the stories behind the quilts. Oh - and there are a few of my own quilts in the suitcase as well.

Television © Robert IrwinTélévision [detail] © Robert Irwin

A Textile Journey

The creative process is often likened to a journey. 

My journey began when I first went to Africa in 1984 and I'm still travelling the buses and back roads as I research and document Africa's colourful and varied textile traditions.

In this talk our  journey follows a defining metaphor of African design, fashion and expression: Africa wax print fabric.

African fabric meets Britain's textile and industrial heritage in a splash of colour and design.

Oh, and a few quilts as well!

Magie Relph with textile map of Africa Magie Relph with her trusty 'carte d'Afrique', purchased in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Under African Skies

Focusing on cloths from my collection, we'll look at West Africa's long tradition of hand-dyeing fabrics.

We'll examine indigo from Guinea, Mali and Kano, Nigeria, plus resist dyed Adire, kola and indigo from The Gambia and batiks from Ghana.

Then we'll see how contemporary dyers are building on the past to develop new techniques and designs.

And, we'll see how I've used these fabrics in my quilts.

Musa Jaiteh untieing kola nut fabric
Musa Jaiteh untieing kola nut and indigo fabric: Sukuta, The Gambia

African Blues

Indigo truly is 'the king of colours'. And nowhere more so than in Africa.

Mixing a bit of history with a bit of alchemy, then adding a dash of design, we'll discover the beauty, excitement and significance of this unique dye in Africa.

We'll focus on Adire and Dogon resist dyeing, Mossi cloth from Mali, Daboya strip woven cloth and costume from Ghana, and factory produced blue print Shwe Shwe fabric from South Africa.

Indigo dye pits Kano
Indigo dye pits: Kano, Nigeria

Big Is Beautiful: African Costume and Clothing

In Africa, the bigger the occasion, the more important it is to show off.

And what better way to display your status, importance and wealth than by what you wear?

Grand flowing boubous, enormous embroidered trousers and Bolgatanga underwear are just a few of the items from my collection that you can admire and handle.

Plus, we'll need a model or two!

Traditional fugu smock
Traditional fugu smock: Daboya, Ghana

Ashanti Inspirations

Many of my quilts have been influenced by the textiles of West Africa.

By handling both vintage and modern pieces from my collection, we'll discover how these traditional cloths are made.

We'll also discuss their place in West African culture, as well as the background and meaning of their designs.

Handwoven Kente cloth and handstamped Adinkra cloth are just two of the textiles we'll examine.

And you'll see in a selection of my quilts how these traditional African designs can inspire your creative work.

Gabriel wearing Adinkra, Ntonso, Ghana
Gabriel proudly wearing Adinkra cloth: Ntonso, Ghana

Textiles, Trade and Tradition

A look at how trade helped develop and influence textile traditions in West Africa.

We'll look back at the early days of trade across and into Africa, then discover what's happening today in contemporary Africa.

Market and mosque: Djenne, MaliThe grand mosque and market: Djenne, Mali

Beauty and the Bead

Such a small thing - the bead - but so important in West Africa.

Lets take a trip to the markets and villages of Ghana and meet many of the talented artisans who make our beads.

How do they turn recycled glass, brass and plastic into the beads Ghanaians wear and treasure?

We'll examine their processes closeup and trace the links to the historic trade beads that brought bead culture alive in West Africa.

This talk is presented by Bob Irwin.

Glass beads, old and new: Koforidua, Ghana

Talk Fees 2019

Talk: £135

Talk Fees 2020

Talk: £140

Travel: .45p per mile, plus accommodation if required.

Cancellation: All bookings are subject to a £50 charge if cancelled less than 25 days prior to the arranged date.

More info and booking

If you'd like more information about my talks or if you'd like to make a booking, please contact me: Magie Relph at The African Fabric Shop.


t: 01484 850629

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