Blue Alchemy : Stories of Indigo, a film by Mary Lance, with introductory talk by Dr Jenny Balfour-Paul

Jenny she will introduce Mary Lance, the award-winning director of a new film Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo, and both of them will be available for Q&A after the screening


Jenny will also be signing copies of her book, newly re-issued by the British Museum Press, Indigo; Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans.

Blue Alchemy is about the extraordinary blue dye, Indigo, that has captured the human imagination for millennia. The world’s only natural blue dye, it is the most universally valued. Found on archaeological textiles of all the great civilisations, its exotic history stretches back more than 4000 years. Like salt, silk or spices, Indigo is one of those key commodities that has linked cultures worldwide, and inspired innovation in both art and science. Its relevance continues into the 21st century; not only for dyeing the global fashion-item, blue jeans, but also for sustainable dyes, paints and medicines.

The film explores the remarkable people around the world who are continuing and reviving natural organic indigo in projects that are intended to enhance life within their communities, preserve cultural integrity, improve the environment and bring beauty to our world.


Mary Lance

Mary is an award-winning filmmaker with over thirty years' experience in documentary production. Her independent documentaries include Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo_ (2011), Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World (2002), Diego Rivera: I Paint What I See (1989), and Artists at Work: A Film on the New Deal Art Projects (1981). They have been distributed widely in the USA and abroad, have won numerous awards, and have been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and major foundations. Mary Lance also works as a producer for television and has produced numerous programs for museums.


Dr Jenny Balfour-Paul

Jenny, writer, artist and traveller, was a consultant for _Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo_. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Traveller’s Club, and partner in Silk Road Connect, an educational initiative launched by cellist Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project in New York in 2009. She was consultant curator for the Whitworth Art Gallery’s 2007 exhibition Indigo: A Blue to Dye For. She has published two books on Indigo and her forthcoming book relates her adventures by land and sea with a Victorian traveller.

2012Martin Keeley