Indigo Journeys, with Jenny Balfour-Paul

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Jenny Balfour-Paul's Indigo Journeys began with the overland hippie trail to India and have led to a lifetime of exploration and discovery. Living and working in the Middle East and North Africa, with first-hand fieldwork in many Arab countries, she has become the world's leading expert on the history and science of indigo dyeing. Her researches have sent her to some of the most exotic and remote regions of the world.

Indigo, the world’s only natural blue dye, 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.


Dr Jenny Balfour-Paul

Jenny is is an Honorary Research Fellow at Exeter University, a Fellow of London’s Royal Geographical Society, of the Royal Asiatic Society and of New York’s Explorers Club. She is a lecturer and freelance exhibition curator, and author of two books on Indigo.

She is the consultant for the American 2011 documentary film Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo, and is currently researching dyes in shipwrecks as well as promoting revivals of natural dyes.

Jenny is a partner in Silk Road Connect. an inspiring, cross-cultural educational initiative launched by the world-famous cellist, Yo-Yo Ma in New York.

Indigo: From Mummies to Blue Jeans is being re-launched by British Museum Press this summer, while her forthcoming book, Come Back Yesterday, relates her adventures with a Victorian traveller and indigo planter.

2011Martin Keeley