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Trash talk

By Hannah Mahon

A jellytip wrapper is a find for Jay Hutchinson. For the artist trash is fine art. He began to notice discarded stuff, and was “drawn to the colours, textures and nostalgic relationship I had with these products.”

Jay Hutchinson, Jelly Tip, hand embroidery on printed cotton drill, 2022

Embroiderer/graffiti artist Hutchinson wants his work to encourage people to pay more attention to their environment.

His work explores “urban environments, brand nostalgia, mass consumption and decaying environment.” His embroidery brings together a mix of textiles, including sewing silk, cotton drill cloth, and urban materials such as tarmac slabs, steel, and concrete, to illustrate pieces of trash found around cities. Hutchinson says, “I don’t embroider every piece that I pick up; however, I do try to pick up every piece that I come across, much to my wife’s dismay.”

Jay Hutchinson working on embroidery

Hutchinson originally went to art school to paint graffiti on big canvases, but after being nudged into a craft diploma at Otago Polytechnic, he found his love for hand stitching. He finds the methodical process of hand embroidery “a great way to relax and calm my mind as I get satisfaction out of the stitch by stitch progression.”

Jay Hutchinson, Dunkin Donut, hand embroidery on printed cotton drill, 2020

The Dunedin artist admires the work of Fiona Connor, Glen Hayward, and Craig Costello, which helps inspire his pieces. While he finds the trash at random, he abides by a set of parameters and rules, including sticking to one area at a time. “The trash sets the theme for the exhibition, and I love seeing the different types of trash that are disposed of in different areas of the city.”

Jay Hutchinson, McDonalds, hand embroidery on cotton drill, 2022

Currently, Hutchinson has work in a group exhibition at Fiksate Gallery in Christchurch, and some being shown at Otago Museum in Southern People, Southern Land. He also has a project underway with Olga Gallery in Dunedin.

First published in Art Zone #92


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