16/05/11Vogue covers are iconically empowering and flaunting of beautiful, admirable women. They are printed in the millions and sold across the world. Staring back at us this week was the Rosie Huntington-Whiteley issue, full of glamour, royally red and… hand stitched? Upon closer inspection it was clear that this wasn’t a regular issue of Vogue, it was a hand-embroidered version that had taken 50 hours to create.
This is the work of Inge Jacobsen; an artist and photographer who plays with the portrayal of idealised women through cross-stitch. Think high-end fashion ad campaigns and editorial covers teamed with old school embroidered porn images, and you’re heading down the right route.
Your work has been described as both ‘amazing’ and ‘inspiring’. How does it feel to be considered as an inspirational figure at such a young age?
Overwhelming and exciting. It is also incredibly flattering; I never thought in a million years I would be in this position weeks before my degree show. Now the pressure is on to keep creating work of the same or better calibre. That’s the part I’m finding a bit overwhelming, but the response I have got from people has been fantastic.
Are you proud to be representing a skill and talent that is so often associated with an older generation?
Absolutely! I think we’ve come a long way since my Grandmother’s generation technologically and intellectually, but it is important to keep the crafts of yesteryears going for future generations. Embroidery can be cool and trendy if people want it to be, you just have to think about it differently to see it as being creative.
You explain in your personal artistic statement that your work challenges the response people have to the imagery around them, specifically ‘disrupting the easy consumption of images’. By creating highly intricate embroidered pieces, do you wish to fine tune people’s attention to detail or are you trying to get them to think outside the box when viewing seemingly standard fashion portraiture?
A bit of both. I’m not sure if you can ‘make’ a viewer look at your work long enough to see every detail, I think that comes from seeing an image regularly. I have an embroidery piece that I got from my Grandmother years ago and every now a then I’ll spot something I hadn’t seen before, like stitches that cross over in the opposite way. I would like viewers to see this as a different take on your everyday glossy magazine, making them look twice at it whilst getting on with their busy lives.
You have trained as a fine artist and photographer, and explain that you like to be creative with your images. Have you considered or practiced embroidery on your own photographs, in the same way as you have weaved with your own work?
I have but so far it hasn’t given me the same results as sewing into magazines. The idea of having the mass-produced piece that is widely available for anyone to buy, and taking it and making it my own is the area I have been exploring. I have done a few pieces, one of which is on my website called ‘A Trip to Tate Modern, London’. It was a piece I made as part of a university project where we collaborated with professional artist Diego Ferrari.
Creating embroidered images of pornography and flawless editorials induces the idea that you have elements of feminist beliefs. Would this be a correct assumption to make?
It would be. I think it’s my way of poking fun at and acknowledging the sexualised culture we live in. I’m not saying it is necessarily a bad thing, I wouldn’t want to live in a society where sex was a ‘no go’ area and treated as something to be ashamed of. These images already have sexual under tones, I’m just making them more obvious.
We got in contact with her to find out more.
Vogue seemed particularly impressed with your talent, however the cross-stitching technique you used there was quite a literal interpretation of the cover, at first glance. Your embroidery onto Valentino’s Campaign image for Winter 2010 was quite the opposite, showing off a bare breasted woman opposed to the naively positioned model they used. Why did you take such a different approach? How do you think Valentino as a brand would feel about this?
I hope they won’t be too upset; I haven’t yet had any legal action taken over it. I’m acknowledging the image of the girl, just in a bolder manner. A naked girl is a naked girl; I’m just showing it from a different angle. OK, maybe the porno image isn’t as coy as the Valentino image, but like I said before, I’m just making these sexual undertones more obvious.
You have sewn onto a variety of established images and editorial covers. Did you actively approach Vogue or did they come across you?
They came across my work and contacted me. It is a magazine I’ve always liked and bought, I could never bring myself to throw out any issues so I have a load of them lying around my place. It seemed like the most logical thing to sew into them, and ‘recycle’ their imagery.
Have you shown any other established names such as Harper’s or DSQUARED2 your re work of their work? If so, what did they think?
I haven’t shown them, no. I would really like DSQUARED2 to see it because I think they, out of all the brands I’ve sewn porn over, would (maybe) appreciate it more. Their brand is quite sexy and daring and I hope and think a few hand stitched porn images would go down well with them.
Finally, from the examples of cross-stitch and sewing I have seen, it is clear you are a highly talented artist, both practicality and mentally. How do you see this line of art developing, or is this as far as this idea will go?
I hope I can take it further; I enjoy doing it so much that I’d like to explore it more and see where it can go. I’ve only been doing it on and off for the past year and a bit so I think there is room to explore. When it starts getting repetitive I’ll stop but right now it’s still something that interests me. Wait and see.