Jessa Fairbrother

2019 QEST Scholar - Embroidery

Photography, performance and needle are central to Jessa’s practice. She uses the body-as-site to explore communal meanings, concerned with making explicit the moment when performed gesture and gaze of the viewer collide. Emotional exchanges between artwork and audience was sparked by originally training as an actor and working in journalism, and nurtured by an MA in Photographic Studies (University of Westminster 2008-10). She frequently appears in her own images, piercing and embroidering them to employ process as action. Needle perforations and thread puncture the skin of the photograph, extending image-objects beyond a single time and space. Things embody feelings and the body is a material, where experience can manifest itself through stitches.

Funding from QEST has enabled the self-taught embroiderer to undertake formalised training with the Royal School of Needlework to complete the Certificate in Technical Embroidery, perfecting techniques for use in her contemporary photographic work.

When I first began to stitch, it was from a place of great urgency. I later realised the purpose was an attempt to tether myself to a happy ending, literally and metaphorically sewing myself to something I yearned for, but was never going to be mine.