The Genesis of "Forget me not" Project
In these watercolours, we were intrigued, and indeed seduced, by the blue cloth clothes worn by the farm and factory workers: they bear an uncanny resemblance to those worn by male and female slaves until the French abolition of slavery in 1848.
Our question is the following:
Where did these blue fabrics, known as "Toiles de Guinée", come from?
It is known that they were dyed with indigo, the trade of which partly contributed to the prosperity of the French trading post of Pondicherry. There were close links between India, Reunion Island and Mauritius, its neighbour in the Mascarene Islands. In particular between 1852 and 1882, when the British stopped recruiting indentured labor.
Reconstitution & Valorisation
ForgetMeNot's project is to reconstitute, as far as possible, these workers' clothes identically, both to
- bring to life the destiny of the "invisible" in history,
- to make available techniques and knowledge about the modest craft of sewing and clothing manufacture,
- to show how social hierarchies are expressed in clothing.
The title of the project refers to this target:
to put back in their right and important place:
the workers, the men, the women, the children, who made the wealth of the colonies and of their "masters".
And if this work resulted in beautiful exhibitions, we would be very proud!