Multidisciplinary artist and Drake's collaborator Jane Wilbraham talks with us about the democracy of textiles, the appeal of folk art, and the inspiration to be found in the natural world.
I’m not from a family of artists or any kind of artistic background at all, but I do have craft and trade tradition in carpentry. My father was a butcher, but never really wanted to be a butcher, I think - he would have preferred to be an engineer. He was always making things, and always helping me make things, which I loved from a very early age. I always just really loved art, and was always drawing or writing or doing something that was creative in that way. It was very apparent that my parents would have preferred me to do something a lot ‘safer’ in terms of income. Understandably, coming from a working-class background, going into art at that time was like, ‘Well, what is it? What do you do as an artist? How do you make a living?’ Still questions I ask myself quite regularly!
I did a foundation year locally in Shropshire where I’m from. From the foundation year, it was suggested to me that I might try to apply to Oxford, which at the time seemed quite appealing, and quite a different cultural experience from the one I’d had up until then. I applied to study fine arts at The Ruskin [School of Art], and I passed the exam, so I went there for three years.
I came out of Oxford and then went to The Slade [School of Fine Art] for two years to do my post-grad. That was the point at which I’d started to realise that making the choice between sculpture and painting was a bit of a false one. I didn’t really feel that I naturally wanted to be pigeonholed into being one or the other. I don’t describe myself as a painter or a sculptor, I describe myself as an artist.