ARTIST PRO­FILE

Welling­ton artist Jane Den­ton’s hand-stitched art­works have a clever way of qui­etly set­ting the mood.

Homestyle New Zealand - - CONTENTS - WORDS Lisa Mor­ton PHOTOGR APHY Bonny Beat­tie

Jane Den­ton.

IT WAS A PIECE OF YARN-BOMB­ING street art that set tex­tile artist Jane Den­ton on a cre­ative course that has be­come her full­time oc­cu­pa­tion. “The orig­i­nal in­spi­ra­tion for my work came from see­ing how some­one had wrapped wool around a few squares of a tall wire fence on Vi­vian Street in Welling­ton,” she ex­plains. “They’d made a pat­tern with the wool and even though it had faded, I could see po­ten­tial in the idea as an art form.”

On her re­turn home that day, she be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with us­ing wool in a sim­i­lar way. Fast for­ward six years and her intricately stitched geo­met­ric works adorn walls around New Zealand and, in­creas­ingly, the world.

The shapes Jane makes are at first glance sim­ple but on closer ex­am­i­na­tion re­vealed to be beau­ti­fully tex­tu­ral, mix­ing thread type, colour and stitch style in pal­ettes from tran­quil neu­trals to vi­brant brights. The pieces are pretty, fem­i­nine, de­tailed and con­tem­pla­tive – a plea­sure to live with.

When did you be­gin cre­at­ing art­works

us­ing cot­ton and wool? I started in 2011 when my two chil­dren were very young and I felt I needed a cre­ative out­let. I be­gan sell­ing my first se­ries of work at home­ware stores Small Acorns, Al­lium and Let Liv, and was also lucky enough to gain sup­port from some well-known Amer­i­can stylists and blog­gers, in­clud­ing Emily Hen­der­son and Am­ber Lewis, who pro­moted my work and helped me break into the Amer­i­can mar­ket. To­day my art­work is sold through my web­site, and al­though I sell a lot of pieces to New Zealan­ders, the ma­jor­ity of my or­ders come from over­seas.

Tell us about your stu­dio. For the first five years, I worked out of our fam­ily home, but once my work­load in­creased and I em­ployed an as­sis­tant, I knew that had to change. We had a down­stairs space with its own ac­cess, so ear­lier this year we turned it into a stu­dio. It had pre­vi­ously been used as a stor­age room, but had loads of po­ten­tial, with in­built shelv­ing and deep in­set win­dows. Now that it’s been painted and car­peted and has new fur­ni­ture and light­ing, it’s be­come a re­ally lovely, light-filled place to work.

What’s the first thing you do when you

ar­rive at work each day? I love the start of my day! Af­ter tak­ing my kids to school, I meet •

my as­sis­tant Kate Mah in the stu­dio. We make cof­fee, chat about what needs to be done, put on some mu­sic and get started.

How do your pieces be­gin their life? I’m usu­ally in­spired by a shape or pat­tern I’ve seen, and then I think about a colour pal­ette. I’m al­ways notic­ing colours and pat­terns in ev­ery­day life – of­ten in un­ex­pected things like floor tiles in a bath­room or a dis­play in a friend’s gar­den. Dif­fer­ent sea­sons af­fect my choice of colour too. In sum­mer it’s all about soft and muted tones, whereas in win­ter I’m drawn to more in­tense colours.

My woollen art­works are typ­i­cally brighter and bolder in de­sign, and I think the wool gives them a real tac­tile qual­ity; the cot­ton is more sub­tle – it gives the art­work a more re­fined look. I was re­cently given some New Zealand cor­riedale and peren­dale wool, which I’m look­ing for­ward to in­cor­po­rat­ing into my work.

How has your sig­na­ture style de­vel­oped

over time? My work has al­ways had clean lines, and over­all I think it has a de­cep­tive look of sim­plic­ity. The pal­ette ranges from soft and pale through to bright and colour­ful, but even when there’s a lot of colour, I like to tone it down with neu­trals so it’s not too busy.

I cur­rently have a lot of or­ders to ful­fil, but I’m al­ways think­ing about new de­signs. I’m go­ing to start a new se­ries of cot­ton work soon, which will be bolder in colour but still have the del­i­cacy that cot­ton pro­vides.

Do you un­der­take com­mis­sions or

col­lab­o­rate with other artists? I do a lot of com­mis­sion pieces. Some­times they’re sim­ply ex­ist­ing de­signs us­ing dif­fer­ent colours, and in other cases they’re some­thing com­pletely new.

I re­ally en­joy the col­lab­o­ra­tive process. The most re­cent project I worked on was with Emily Hen­der­son. We worked to­gether to cre­ate a lim­ited-edi­tion art­work that she pro­moted through her blog and so­cial me­dia.

What would be your dream project? Over the years I’ve stitched some re­ally big woollen art­works for Amer­i­can clients, but I’d love to cre­ate a very large cot­ton piece. Cot­ton is more re­fined and del­i­cate – I think it would look amaz­ing on a larger scale.

“I’m al­ways notic­ing colours and pat­terns in ev­ery­day life – of­ten in un­ex­pected things like floor tiles in a bath­room or a dis­play in a friend’s gar­den.”

OP­PO­SITE “I love work­ing with lots of nat­u­ral light,” says Jane, who also wouldn’t be with­out her em­broi­dery stand “and tons of gor­geous coloured wools and cot­tons for in­spi­ra­tion”. ABOVE Crafted us­ing fine cot­ton, this piece, en­ti­tled Still iii – Black + White, is from Jane’s lat­est se­ries, Still. This chic scene also in­cludes Luster can­dle­hold­ers by Menu from Let Liv. LEFT Clock­wise from top left are Still i – White, Still iii – Ce­ladon, Still ii – Grey + White and Still iv – Ce­ladon.

ABOVE Boxes of wool and cot­ton crowd the shelves in Jane’s re­cently re­fur­bished stu­dio, where a roll of colour­fully stitched can­vas sits on the work­bench, wait­ing to be mounted onto a board, then framed. OP­PO­SITE The beau­ti­fully serene art­work pic­tured here is Still i – Pink.

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