Jennifer Collier Eco Artist - Stafford, UK.

 Do the materials you source speak to you?

The papers themselves serve as both the inspiration and the media for my work, with the narrative of the books and papers suggesting the forms, for example a sewing machine made from dress making patterns, or a camera out of vintage photographs. I tend to find papers, by scouring charity shops and flea markets, then investigate a way in which they can be reused and transformed; giving new life to things that would otherwise go unloved or be thrown away.

How important are the actual words on the print to your work?

Whenever I am really stuck for an idea I seek inspiration from literature or poetry. The original concept for the dresses and shoes came from the novel ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ by Jeanette Winterson, which I used as the basis for my degree show at university.


Explain how your University degrees have influence your work?

I did a BA (hons) Textiles, at Manchester Metropolitan University, which was a traditional textiles course specialising in print, knit and weave. Toward the end of the course I started experimenting with different materials, weaving with orange peel, melting fruit bags etc. Most of the techniques I use in my work now are things I have taught myself since graduating by experimenting with different media and techniques.

 Can you explain the technique you use?

By bonding, waxing, trapping and stitching I produce unusual paper ‘fabrics’, which are used to explore the ‘remaking’ of household objects. The papers are treated as if cloth, with the main technique employed being stitch; a contemporary twist on traditional textiles.

I use both hand and machine stich in my work, and where possible try to use traditional embroidery techniques. I use resin to embed objects to make my coat hangers. the papers are rarely ‘treated’ in any way, as most people think, it is just the paper itself that I use, but through years of practice you get a feel for how far you can push it, and when it is going to tear, and which papers work best for what job. Some of the shoes are formed over a mould, using a moulding medium, but the Stilettos and Brogues are made from a flat template I have designed, then constructed into a three-dimensional shoe shape and the Ballet Slippers are hand stitched to form the shape.

 We often wonder where commissions end up, discuss this aspect of your work?

A piece ‘Typewriter’ was commissiond in 2013 by the Library of Birmingham.

It is made using vintage typewriter manuals and encyclopaedias, the finished piece is housed in the Reference section of the new library.

Discuss the progress you take for a commission?

Commissioning a piece of work is really exciting – it is a chance to have something make especially for you.  Below is a resent commission I have make.

Map SLR Camera

You can see the detail of both the use of appropieate maps and text in the making of this SLR camera.

Map SLR detail

Workshops play a huge part in your calender discuss?

I have been running workshops in both schools and tertiary levels as well as with community groups.  I am not currently running outside workshops due to my commitment  to a very young family, people who are interested can come to my gallery Unit Twelve to participate in art workshops there rather than me going out.  There are also five other artists who work from the studio who are available.

Explain about your studio?

I work from a studio in Stafford that allows me to be self employed through three avenues, sales, exhibitions and commissions running my own gallery Unit Twelve.


You have run workshops in some of Britains most influential Galleries, explain?

Yes, I have run works at many galleries including The V&A, Tate Liverpool, and Manchester Art Gallery.

How long have you been practicing recycling or eco art?

I have been investigating the re-used and recycled since 1999.  Giving new life to things that would otherwise go unloved or be thrown away.

Contact details.

Jennifer Collier, Stafford, UK

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, May, 2015   

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