The idea of 'place' as a concept is key to the work of Ross Belton and his practice. His work responds directly to the environment he finds himself in, whether urban or rural. Natural dyes, homegrown plants, found objects and recycled materials form the building blocks of his work. The direction is dictated by the materials, and the final piece of work is a record of Ross' interactions, decisions and response. The variety of raw materials he finds takes his work in surprising and unexpected directions. This journey of discovery is fuelled by his research into traditional crafts and techniques, embracing flaws and exploring the history of these resources.
The 2014 Boro Exhibition at Somerset House was the starting point for Ross's new adventure, inspiring him to return to full-time study. Initially drawn to traditional indigo and shibori practices, his fascination with rust and exploration of natural dyeing has led to a world of botanical colour. Each piece of wrapped fabric, each stitch, each mark creates a unique visual language that highlights his experimentation and interest in pushing the boundaries of textile alchemy.
The concept of 'ma' is another influence. Mies van der Rohe coined the phrase 'less is more' but ma is more than a reductionist theory. It is the space between objects that allows them to breathe. Working with collections, the relationship between objects is crucial. Individual pieces sit in harmony with the whole, at peace with each other.
In many ways, Ross' fascination for Japan informs his work as much as the influence of his African childhood. Concepts such as wabi-sabi and kintsugi have each inspired collections and installations, and classic texts such as 'How to Wrap Five Eggs' continue to inspire him. There are distinct overlaps in the concept of craft from both cultures, whether traditional Japanese weaving or African resist print fabrics, boro to kuba cloth.