Jenni Cadman is a graduate in Printed Textile design and has worked in a variety of techniques including stained glass and decorative paint finishes. In 2000 and 2001 she received the Drafts Award from the Arts Council SW and is now an established textile artist and teacher, exhibiting widely in the south-west and all over the UK. Her work has appeared in the international journal Textiles Arts and, as a resident of Devon, she is also a member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.
Understandably Jenny’s work is based almost exclusively on the countryside and vernacular architecture of Devon and Cornwall, although the first slides we were shown dated from 1995; recognisable images of the Scottish coastline. Her chosen techniques are fabric applique and collage with machine embroidery worked on a calico base using frayed silks, velvet, suede, old re-used fabrics and hessian, with Bondaweb as a stabiliser. As an advocate of spontaneity (Jenni admits to not being an artist) she enjoys the freedom of sketching without looking at the paper, resulting in a series of meandering lines on a white background intended to capture the essence of the scene better than a more considered sketch might have done. From these sketches she works the design in machine embroidery on the reverse of the fabric over a ragged ‘patchwork’ of coloured pieces which are often softened by layers of organza. Black lines predominate to outline shapes and to create shadows, a method Jenni also uses to create a line-drawing effect of interiors, doors, windows and stonework with the outer edges often left raw and uneven.
Jenni often uses two L-shaped viewfinders to isolate portions of her sketches which are then enlarged from small details to about twenty inches. She uses a computer to help select a colour palette and she always works from the reverse side because of the surprise element it produces. Recently, after an exhibition she collaborated with a picture-framer selling to the USA, who asked her for pieces of a certain size, colour-scheme and subject matter, thus ensuring an established market for her work until the financial crisis of 2008.
As well as showing slides of her work, Jenni brought a collection of framed pieces for us to examine, almost all of which were of an abstract nature, offering a more detailed analysis of her techniques and ideas. An appreciative and interested audience asked many questions at the conclusion of the talk which was enjoyed for a variety of reasons, not least of which was a close-up view of how an established embroiderer works