Your cart

Your cart is empty

Introducing Jay Hutchinson

Jay Hutchinson is an embroidery artist with a twist. He has a longstanding fascination with street culture, which he expresses in his art works by contrasting the quick nature of graffiti with the slow and careful practice of needle-point.

One of the potential aims of art is to make people look again at things that they would normally disregard — to view things in a new, unexpected light — and in doing so to see them as if for the first time. This is a major feature of the fabric and installation art of Jay Hutchinson.

Hutchinson’s work takes the throwaway, literally, and raises it to a level where it is no longer worthless. Using as his subject discarded scraps and rubbish found on his daily journeys, he recreates the items and reinvents them as intricate and attractive embroidered pieces. This allows us to appreciate that even the detritus of everyday life can have its own surprising and subversive beauty.

Many of Hutchinson’s pieces are hand-embroidered in sewing silk on cotton drill cloth. Other, more massive, installations include urban materials such as tarmac slabs, steel and concrete. Hutchinson’s works subvert the norm, not by simply making high art from low art, but by making high art from scrap. While this makes us reappraise every day, it also posits the thought that rubbish, in all its accumulated glory, will become the epitaph of this civilization, a Rosetta Stone or Bayeux Tapestry from which our history will be deciphered.

Jay Hutchenson is a Dunedin-based artist whose practice is something special. We caught up with Jay to talk a little bit about his background, as well as some unique works he has developed exclusively for Fiksate Galley.

Why have you decided to become an artist? Was there a defining moment in your life when you knew you were an artist?
I was always drawing or writing on everything as a kid. I got into graffiti in 1998 and decided I hated my job and wanted to go to art school. Ironically, I wanted to paint large graffiti inspired canvases but came out doing tiny embroideries

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I have been working in public art galleries for 16 years as a technician at the DPAG and the Dowse. I was a member of the Blue Oyster Project Space board in 2005. Set up and opened my own gallery ( in 2011, a space I ran for two years before relocating to Wellington…before moving back to Dunedin in 2017 due to the cost of living.

What are your ideal working conditions?
I can work anywhere, my practice is very portable

What’s your background? Do you have a formal art education or are you self-taught?
I went to art school in Dunedin in 1999. I’d dropped out of high school and didn’t have any formal qualifications, I had to enrol in a diploma course which was frustrating at the time because I just wanted to paint big canvases and I ended up in the jewellery and textile diploma course. In the end I ended up enjoying working with fabric and when the opportunity came for me to transfer to painting I found I was more interested in textiles.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find my inspiration in the streets. The textures of the surfaces. Buildings and footpaths eroded by time. Fragments of scribble tags. Rubbish discarded in public spaces. The psychogeography of the urban environment.

What do you think are your strongest abilities contributing to the success of your work?
Strong work ethic and perseverance!

Do you do a lot of research or dive straight into a new work?
My works generally work into one another. I generally have three or four embroidery projects on the go. I still slap up stickers so I am always making a bunch of those up and do the occasional tag or throwie when members of my old crew are in town.

Tell us a little about your exclusive release with the Zig Zags.
The zig zag packets are the most littered trash around the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, where I work as a technician. There is a group of people that pick up cigarette butts in the streets and meet outside the gallery daily and roll tiny spiffs. They always ask for cash, I usually flick them some coins though they get moved off by the police often. I find it fascinating how different each discarded packet looks on the street. The torn or cut sections, the crumpled worn card and general wear of the street.

You also have 2 other pieces titled ‘Eight steps to Perfection’ - can you tell us a little about these works?
I picked up these two pieces of trash while I was heading to north east valley from town in Dunedin. The KFC and Subway are situated a block apart…though one is marketed as healthy alternative to junk food, it’s still just trash on the street. Colourfully packaged marketing eroding in our streets. On another note, the title comes from a track by one of my favourite hip hop groups ‘Company Flow’.

Can you tell us about how you select a piece of trash worthy of replicating into your work?
I usually create a system or a set of rules to collecting the trash. I have been working on project where I have been collecting the trash from the carpark at the back of the gallery. The project is titled ‘Treasures from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery car park’ and only trash found in this location can be part of the project. While working on this series I kept noticing the zig zag packets out the front of the gallery and in the octagon, so I started photographing and picking up these as a side project. I also started trying to figure out where they came from as there seemed to be one or two new packets a week…hence where the zig zag series I created for Fiksate came from…I found about 20 to date, but only made 9 based on the more interesting finds.

So, you’ve exhibited in galleries throughout New Zealand and even in the U.S, what makes you want to exhibit your work with Fiksate?

I love what the gallery is doing. I started following Fiksate online when a couple of friends showed a year or two ago (Sean and Levi) the Askew exhibition was super dope, I have been a fan of his work for years. I discovered Ghostcat’s work through Fiksate and his work is fucken rad too. The gallery installs always look really slick, you guys are doing a great job, I know how much work goes into setting up and running a gallery, especially as you both have your own art practices and a young child. Mad respect!!!

Previous post
Next post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published