My project aims to restore Jamaican plant colour knowledge through practice-based research, locating Jamaican plants with pigment and dye potential and extracting colours using non-toxic binders and modifiers. A physical database will record botanical and common names and local Jamaican and African plant names. I will present the entire body of research as an art form with handmade books recording experiments and plant portraits comprising prints using pigments, photography, audio-visuals, poetry and prose.
I will frame the research in decolonising methodology, exploring alternative ways of documenting and shifting power dynamics. Jamaicans and their diaspora primarily refer to plants by common names, which often only exist in an oral tradition (Kelly and Dickinson, 1985). However, as international law does not legislate how vernacular names are used, I will use ethnography and field research to elevate Jamaican local plant names. This approach will help make the pigment plants easier to identify. The local terms will also provide valuable insight into Jamaican cultural uses and, potentially, another way to explore lost ancestral African connections.