Shoreham Wordfest: The Nettle Dress – a film by Dylan Howitt

About this event

A modern-day fairy tale and hymn to the healing power of nature and slow craft.

“Exquisite and inspiring, beautiful and helpful for anyone suffering loss or grief.” ~ Sir Mark Rylance

Textile artist Allan Brown spends seven years making a dress by hand, using only the fibre of locally foraged stinging nettles. This is ‘hedgerow couture’, the greenest of slow fashion. It’s also the medicine that helps him survive the death of his wife, which leaves him and their four children bereft, and how he finds a beautiful way to honour her.

‘Grasping the Nettle’ is at the heart of it. Making a dress this way becomes devotional, with every thread representing hours of loving attention. Over seven years Allan is transformed by the process as much as the nettles are.

The challenge of making zero carbon clothing means re-learning ancient crafts: foraging, spinning, weaving, cutting and sewing. Finally, the dress is worn by one of his daughters, back in the woods where the nettles were picked.

Cert 12A. Duration: 68 mins. Film followed by a talk with the filmmaker, Dylan Howitt and the Dressmaker, Allan Brown.

About the filmmaker:
Dylan Howitt has been filming compelling stories from around the world for more than 20 years: from Mozambican artists creating sculptures out of decommissioned guns, to a death row survivor in Ohio, to video workshops with children in Guatemala.

‘The Nettle Dress’ is his second feature length film made for cinematic release. He says: “I’m interested in finding new ways to tell stories about nature. I see our film as a love story about nettles, about connecting with the natural spaces where we live and the solace to be found there. It’s a kind of fable about finding a slower, simpler, more connected way to do things that is more in tune with the natural world.” 

An audience member wrote: “The film and the dress embody something beyond monetary value. Pure caring attention, grief, perseverance, faith and even magic.”

About the dressmaker:
Allan Brown is a textile artist living in Brighton, East Sussex. His practice focuses on the creation of location specific textiles from fibres and dye plants that are grown or foraged in and around the South Downs.

He spins, dyes and weaves to capture the spirit of time and place and is best known for his experiments and expertise using nettles to produce cloth. He founded the ‘Nettles for Textiles’ group on Facebook which is now over 22,000 strong. He grows flax and numerous dye plants, as well as food, on an allotment he’s cultivated for over twenty years. He is also a published author of popular books on sacred geometry.

  • Date
    Tue, October 3, 2023
  • Start time 7:30 PM
  • Price SOLD OUT
  • Duration TBA
  • Event format TBA

Event Expired

Ropetackle Arts Centre

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