- Jo Polack
This week we hear from Jo Polack, an artist based in Cornwall who produces beautiful pieces of artwork inspired by the sealife around her.
I’m a lucky lass! I create my textile art from my Studio Gallery in St Agnes, Cornwall; a fantastic community with a stunning coast - both of which inspires my work!
Most of my artwork becomes large framed wall pieces or hangings and so it has been lovely to be able to feature a few favourite treasures on my range of bags printed by BIDBI.
All the designs for my bags are taken from my original artwork. The Mackerel began life whilst I was on my first ever kayak lesson. We were heading back up into the harbour; I was so excited that I hadn’t capsized out to sea and alongside the kayaks swam mackerel, the evening sun bouncing off their backs as they hit the surface. Iridescence was etched on my mind and I needed to go straight back to the studio! I layered up fabrics, found fragments and stitched away until I’d captured that light and movement as best I could.
I work closely with local marine ecologists and people who dive off the cove here when I research my projects. I was blown away by the species that exist so close to where I regularly swim. The sea fan was created by embroidering onto handmade felt. I thought the contrasting colours of the orange sea fan and turquoise water make a striking image on the lunch bag.
Choosing which designs to put on the bags was at once the most enjoyable and the hardest part! I’d started out intending just to have one design on one type of bag but couldn’t decide so ended up with a range! I got too excited about the different sizes and shapes on offer and how a display of them would look! I was particularly excited to discover the lunch bag size which I had been searching for for sometime. They have a cute factor that everyone loves. And once I’d started I wanted to have other pieces of work printed too…I considered my seaweed studies or my underwater landscapes or my stitch maps….but maybe they are for the future…or a teatowel!
The bags sell from my Studio Gallery – with a lot of wall art and sculptural pieces its nice to be able to offer people something functional too. And they are promotional too. I have a …..beside all the bags which gives them all descriptions to give folk an idea of how they might use them! ‘Pasties on the beach bag’, ‘Bung it all in Bag’ ‘Lovely shop local bag’…..
I think the introduction of the 5p tax was a good thing mostly because it brought the issue of plastic waste into the mainstream and made people think. It is always questionable as to whether a small amount of money created behavioural change but in this case it does seem to. Cloth bags have been increasingly popular even before the introduction of the tax but hopefully have now become the norm. But it was of the utmost importance to me that the cotton for the bags was sustainably sourced as it is can be one of the most intensively grown crops with huge pesticide use so just replacing plastic with that just shifts the problem so I was very relieved to find BIDBI.
I have used BIDBI before and so was pleased to be able to return to them as a more established artist and use the really ‘deluxe’ bags with thick handles and strong canvas feel that give visitors to my Studio a high quality product. And BIDBI have done a great job of printing from an image of a richly layered textile – not easy!
If your'e in the St Agnes area my studio gallery is open to visitors to see me at work and browse finished pieces; usually Tues-Fri plus Sat mornings!