By Isabel Hayman-Brown
Ever since Tracey Emin stitched her way into the public eye with her infamous patchwork tent in ’95, needlework has been proudly reclaimed by female artists.
One such artist who knows her warp from her weft is Kingston graduate Inge Jacobsen who has, quite literally, weaved her way into the pages of glossy fashion magazines with her nifty needlework.
Her charming and witty embroidered images have been featured in fashion bible Vogue as well as Nylon magazine.
River Culture speaks to the nimble-fingered KU graduate about her success in sewing, her dream of working with Vogue and life after KU.
What was it like being approached by Vogue?
Very exciting. I remember being at university earlier in the day and speaking to my tutor about how much I would love to approach Vogue with this. I got home and found an email from the editor of their website saying how they had seen my work online and that they would be interested in writing an article to run alongside a gallery of my work. That was pretty much a dream come true.
When did you first come up with this idea to embroider magazines and how long, on average does a piece take?
I came up with it while studying Fine Art at Kingston in 2006. I didn’t really develop it much at that time but when I returned to Kingston in 2009 to study photography I thought thread would be an interesting way to intervene into images. The length of time depends completely on how big the image is and how much detail it has. I just finished a piece that was 40x48cm and had a lot of detail, it took me around 100 hours to complete.
Why fashion? Has this always been a focus for you? How do you pick your subjects?
Fashion just seems like the natural subject for this work. There are the obvious connections between women, fashion, and needle work. I also collect fashion magazines and it’s that sort of imagery that drew me to photography in the first place.
And your commission for Nylon Japan, how did that come about?
That was really exciting, it was my first big commission and a chance to reach a much wider audience as well as a chance for my work to become a part of the world of mass produced imagery which I thought was funny in an ironic sort of way. They had seen the Vogue covers I has stitched online and emailed me asking if I would like to illustrate over their feature spread for the upcoming issue. It happened pretty quickly and kind of went by in a blur mainly because I was in the last term of my third year. That was a busy time.
You tend to push the boundaries of what can be photography, has this always been something you’ve been interested in, or was there a time when conventional photography interested you?
I can definitely appreciate a conventional photograph and conventional photography; I just didn’t feel like doing it. I think coming from a Fine art background I’m used to making images and spending a considerable amount of time on it. Photography feels like the first step in my work, and it doesn’t have to be me taking the picture.
What do you hope people take away from your work?
I would want them to see it as unique snippets of pop culture and the mass-produced society. I’m fully aware that this is lost when most people view my work because it is usually done online. But the idea is still there, just not fully appreciated.
A lot of your pieces seem quite tongue in cheek, is this you poking fun at how females are portrayed in porn and the media or do you take a more hardened feminist stance?
More poking fun than a hardened feminist stance. I consider myself a feminist but it is not my place to judge the decision other women make. I do think the line between fashion and pornographic photography is blurred and I’m really mocking the coyness of some high-end fashion campaigns.
Where do you see your work in the future? Always in fashion and embroidery?
Not necessarily, but at the moment I’ll stick with embroidery and maybe move away from fashion imagery, maybe embroidering images that are little more unexpected.
How have you found leaving university and what was your favourite thing about studying in Kingston?
The best thing about university is the chance to discuss and develop ideas with peers and tutors; I really miss that since leaving. The course at Kingston allows you the space to work and develop your own ideas and we were always encouraged by the tutors to think outside the box. I was on a photography course but I wasn’t penalised for not taking any photos. The best thing about leaving university is that you get to continue exploring your ideas at your own pace.