This week Brighton Journal spoke to Kate Jenkins, a Brighton-based crochet artist. Kate works in her studio in Kemptown, where she’s been making her food-inspired creations for over fifteen years. Kate enjoys travelling and is continuously influenced by global food culture. Her most recent travels have taken her to Hong Kong, where Kate has been setting up her first solo show in Asia. Take a look at her wonderful work.
What are you doing today?
I am currently at Hong Kong airport waiting to fly home after setting up my first solo show in Asia. The show entitled ‘The Art of Love Bakery’ opened this week at Harbour City Hong Kong. It comprised of a knitted and crocheted bakery and patisserie counter and runs from January 15th – February 16th.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
The majority of my creative work is done in my studio in Kemptown where I have been based for over 15 years. The rest of the time is spent travelling around gathering research and ideas for different projects and commissions.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
I think my most current exhibition is by far the most exciting thing I’ve worked on so far, as a whole gallery space has been converted into a life-sized bakery. All the shelves are filled with pieces specially commissioned pieces for people to interact with and purchase. The show features a life-sized glass patisserie counter, a photo opportunity area with giant knitted props such as a donut, cupcake hat and pretzel glasses and all the staff are dressed in bakers aprons ready to serve the general public. It’s the first time I have had an exhibition like this so it is incredibly rewarding to see it all finished and the people’s reactions to the work.
What made you decide to become an artist?
I have always worked in a creative field as a knitwear designer for over 20 years. I decided to change my career in 2007 and use all of the knowledge and techniques I had used in knitwear design and present it in a different way. My first exhibition was called ‘Comfort Food’ and comprised of the nation’s favourite foods including Roast Dinner, Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash etc. This was originally shown in my studio shop in Kemptown as part of the Artists Open House Trail in 2007. This received huge interest from far and wide and then my life as an artist was born.
What are you currently working on?
I have worked solidly for the last 4 months on the show in Hong Kong so I will be having a small holiday somewhere very soon. I will start planning my next project whilst I’m having a break.
What are the key themes in your work?
I would say that food has had a massive influence in my work over the years. I get an enormous amount of pleasure visiting various countries looking at food and seeing how it’s made presented and sold.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
I think that the majority of clients enjoy my work as it makes them smile or reminds them of a memory connected to food and nostalgia. Others love the way I incorporate a visual joke or pun, and sometimes it could be they just love textile art.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
I love making something 3D from a ball of wool and a hook. The possibilities are endless and I embrace the challenge of making something new. I get excited when I set myself a hard task and it is a success.
What equipment could you not do without?
My knitting machines and crochet hooks. Without them I’m nothing!
Who or what inspires you?
My amazing family and friends who are a constant source of inspiration and support.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
Brighton has been my home for over 20 years and I love the fact that you have so many choices.. you can choose to relax and enjoy the beach, head out to the Downs and embrace the amazing countryside or head into town and meet up with friends for dinner, gigs and dancing. I am so incredibly luck to have all this on my doorstep plus I have a 3 minute commute to work from door to door, I never want to live any where else.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
I love going to see live music at The Concorde 2, Theatre Royal, Duke of Yorks Cinema and eating out at either Chilli Pickle or Riddle and Finns, my two favourite restaurants in Brighton.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
I love the V&A as I always discover something new I haven’t seen before, plus they have a great cafe.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
I really love the work of PES who is a stop-motion artist. I think we could come up with some great concepts and it would make me so happy to see my work come to life.
What’s your favourite colour?
Orange (although I always wear black).
To find out more about Kate and her work, take a look at her website.