Flying the Flag at Half Mast

Jessica Vale

Jessica Vale is a Designer Maker who combines bold pattern with meaningful narrative to create detailed textile art pieces. She is driven by concept, often repurposing vintage garments while using precise embroidery to allow their past to be fully appreciated. Bold and clean pattern is a strong characteristic of Jessica’s style, and can be found throughout her work.

Her most recent project, ‘Flying the Flag at Half Mast’, was inspired by her family connections to the Evacuation at Dunkirk, and exploring the ways that the significance and poignancy from this event could be married with the strong and linear patterns that have become synonymous with Jessica’s practice. She designs wearable art for a gallery setting, where the fine embroidery and subtle details can be best recognised and appreciated.

Jessica uses her understanding of materials to adapt the styles of embroidery to match perfectly to the garment she is working with. For example, for the heavier jacket, heavier embroidery is used. Techniques like Goldwork and beading adorn the garment, combining a wide range of materials, like metals and unusual plastics, adding texture and interest. This differs from the shirt, which is lighter weight and designed to be layered, so flatter embroidery, using just threads, is explored, discovering ways to create pattern within pattern.

Jessica has received a number of awards, including 2nd Prize in The Bradford Textile Competition, ‘Embroidery Category’, Royal School of Needlework Degree ‘Best Technical Stitch Student’ in 2019 and 2020’, and being shortlisted in the TXT International MiniTextile Competition. She has had work displayed in part on the Hanbok Exhibition in the Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston upon Thames, and in Seoul, South Korea, and was part of the ‘Out Of The Blue’ Exhibition in the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle. She has also been sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Needlemakers for the last two years, and also more recently by Madeira Threads.

Jessica’s Top Tip is, “Remember that you are the person who looks the closest at your work! If something goes a little off, don’t beat yourself up, it makes it more personal – if it was meant to be perfect a machine would do it, the beauty in hand embroidery is the little wobbles.”

For future Degree students, Jessica would like to say, “The whole point of a Degree is to help you develop, so if you don’t feel confident in an area, that’s good! It’s impossible to be good at everything, and it just means you’ll find different ways to grow, and become a far more unique and original artist or designer.”


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