Yesterday Tom and I took a drive down the road to West Kilbride. Known as Craft Town Scotland, the thriving main street hosts the studios of talented local artists, designers and craftspeople, such as my friends and compatriots Lillith (Old Maiden Aunt) and Ange (Weftblown). Jane Hunter’s studio is there too, and this was the reason for our visit.
I’ve been a huge fan of Jane’s for ages. Working with fabric and stitches, she creates extraordinary textile maps of Scotland’s landscape.
Like all maps, Jane’s are interpretative accounts of a landscape, not mere objective representations of it. I find her work deeply evocative and suggestive. While her pieces often reference places I know well from experiencing them on foot, her cross sections or aerial perspectives, as well as her tactile medium, prompt me to look at them very differently. Through her work, Jane consistently responds to Scotland’s geology and topography in a uniquely thoughtful way.
She responds thoughtfully to Scotland’s political landscape too.
(Image of Untitled, September 2016 reproduced courtesy of Jane Hunter & Sam Kilday)
I was very excited to meet Jane, and her partner Sam Kilday. Having followed their work for a while I knew we had lots in common, both as folk running small creative businesses, and as makers whose work expresses certain kinds of connection to the landscapes that surround us.
We had a lot to talk about, and it was great to see Jane’s studio, and learn more about her process.
We all have our favourite places, our favourite mountains, and we all respond to those places emotionally, for a whole variety of reasons. On top of this emotional or responsive sense of place, Jane knows an awful lot about geology, and each of her pieces involves careful research into the topography and composition of the particular mountain or area it represents. Perhaps it was something about being close to the fabric and the stitches, about seeing the way that Jane freely embroiders the defining lines of a landscape with her hands, but looking at her extraordinarily beautiful work at close quarters, I began to understand the strength of it — as a kind of remaking of the mountain.
It was extremely inspiring to learn more about what Jane is doing, and especially exciting to see the progress on a new piece on which she’s currently working.
Jane’s current work is an integral part of our Inspired by Islay project. I wonder if you can guess what she might be creating?
You can find out more about Jane and her work by visiting her website, or why not visit her in person at Studio 117, Main Street, West Kilbride?
The next exhibition of Jane’s work is at the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine this coming Spring.