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Our new artist: Jessica Kinnersley

After a busy Easter spent moving in and such a warm and friendly welcome from the community at The Hearth, I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce myself and give a little insight into what I will be working on in my new space!

My background is one of teaching and freelance designing. For many years a typical working week would consist of teaching secondary school Art and A level Textiles by day, then working on embroidery designs for interiors and giftware by night. These experiences really shaped the way I work today, not only in terms of how I manage my time but also how I approach ideas or begin new work.

Following a school merger a few years ago, I made the decision to take redundancy from teaching. I’ve been self-employed for 15 years now, but in many ways I feel like I’m currently embarking on something quite new. I spent many years working to specific briefs or trends. In the classroom I was almost a “Jack of all trades” because I could teach a wide and varied range of textile techniques. However, when all of that came to a halt I found myself feeling a little adrift and wondering what it was that I actually did… What was my “style”? Which ideas did I want to pursue? Which techniques would I naturally lean towards, if I wasn’t defaulting to free-motion machine embroidery for every commission?

It’s taken a few years, some trial and error but I’m re-finding my creative feet! Much of my recent work explores memories and as a result of this (and my love of old books!) you will often see photographs and words appear within my layered collages. Whether I am exploring landscape, memories or a good literary quote; I am drawn to vintage ephemera.

Sometimes a found object itself will become the starting point for stitched piece. There is a certain softness or charm when working with old linens, books and found objects. I enjoy playing with composition and layering papers, fabric and stitch, whether it be by hand or using the sewing machine. Often, I will simply draw with stitch and still enjoy the more illustrative work that I used to tap into as a surface pattern designer. It has long been an ambition of mine to create illustrations in stitch and this is something that I hope to begin ideas for soon.

I certainly have a busy few weeks ahead, preparing for the open studios event in May and also for the art market at the Whitley Bay Carnival the following week.

I still do love to teach. Sharing skills and ideas with others is one of the things I’m passionate about and so I will be developing and offering more workshops in the near future. In June I will be returning to St Oswald’s Hospice; I feel very privileged to be asked to teach there and have seen the true value of art and craft as therapy. I am excited to work in a dedicated space at the Hearth and be part of its thriving, creative community. I see it as a place to grow and focus, away from the distractions and isolation of home. It’s hard to procrastinate in a room filled only with the things I need to get motivated! …And now to work!

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