Threads of Figuration
THE TEXTILE ART OF JACQUE WAKELY
Stitchery and machine embroidery are the techniques used by English artist Jacqué Wakely to create evocative images of landscapes redolent of the coasts, hills and dales of the British Isles. Profile by Tim Saunders.
SINCE she was a child making clothes for her prized dolls, Jacqué Wakely has fostered a passion for textiles that is now stronger than ever. Her collection started with a single doll given by her mother and from there it grew to more than 100 mainly Victorian dolls (and five dolls houses; one built with her brother). This further improved her garment making skills. Her dolls boast finely tailored combinations and petticoats that can’t even be seen but Wakely, a member of the Costume Society, knows they are there. It was six years ago when a friend enquired: ‘Have you ever tried machine embroidery? ’This question brought about a fundamental change of direction for Wakely, who initially dismissed the idea as ‘roses around the door’ and not for her. However, she approached it from right angles and the first machine embroidered piece she produced was of cliffs in Cornwall. Gradually, as galleries seemed keen to show her pictures and clients bought them, she was spurred into a new world of creativity. Combining her advanced skills and knowledge of sewing and embroidery techniques Wakely, perhaps uniquely, makes evocative embroidered landscape works. These are produced on her old Swiss made Bernina 801 “Sport” electric sewing machine. ‘It’s very much non-automatic and reliable,’ she says. ‘I want to be in charge of what it does. I bought it second hand from Queen Margaret University when they were selling of fold machines. I oil it but don’t have it serviced. Machines should be our servants not our masters!’
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