Kristen McClarty is a printmaker and textile artist based in Kommetjie, Cape Town.
Kristen uses a technique called botanical contact printing or eco printing, to transfer the naturally occurring pigment in foliage, from plants to cloth, thus imprinting the shape of leaves and other foliage onto the textile. The print is a colourfast natural transfer and is achieved without the use of dye, ink, or chemicals.
Kristen’s latest body of work, featured in Botanical, has been produced in the period from the first day of Lockdown in South Africa, 27 March 2020, until just before the exhibition. Each piece is a memory of emotions, the day, the conditions, the state of the plants, from just shooting, to flowering, storm damaged, fresh, and dry.
With the lockdown in mind, and in preparation for very limited movement, Kristen foraged extensively for the few days prior to lockdown, and this exuberant selection is laid down in the first of the prints, in flax linen. Later prints feature the blombos in flower. By this time, early morning walks were allowed, thus permitting the foraging of blooms from the suburban areas close to home. Mid-winter produced the usual ferocious Cape storms, bringing down branches from eucalyptus trees usually too high to access. These were printed fresh, and later dry, like leaf litter on the ground.
In this way, Kristen has preserved this year in cloth, setting down the days and passing time, much like the writing of a journal. A memory that can be used or placed or hung in a special space to remind others of this year like no other.
Kristen’s botanical printed work is made in her Kommetjie home studio, under the brand “inyoni” – the name her father called her, growing up in Zululand.