We had the pleasure of chatting with Rose Jensen aka Yes Vincent to learn more about her life, her inspirations, and her artistic process. As most textile lovers can agree, watching art be created on a loom is pure magic. Rose, an Australian native, creates stunning and rich tapestries inspired by the 1970s. (And look at that dress below!)
Where are you originally from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Bridgetown, a rural hamlet south of Perth in Western Australia. When I was two years old we moved to the east coast of Australia to the small surfing town of Coolum, right in the heartland of a tourist belt known as the Sunshine Coast. Growing up there was magical. I remember swimming in the ocean everyday, lots of bicycle rides, stunning beaches, freedom, fresh air and sunshine. We still had cane fields bordering our backyard in those days, and it was a spectacular sight to see the farmer set fire to the cane each season. Apart from the beaches the area is surrounded by stunning mountain villages, many of which support a strong and diverse artistic community.
At present my husband and I live in Brisbane in the inner city suburb of Paddington. It's a wonderful area—full of great bars and cafes, interesting boutiques and some unique retro shops. There's a really strong sense of community here, and the area not only attracts many artists and musicians but also families. Plus there are still some of the older original characters who have lived here since their childhood. Needless to say, we love living here and are surrounded by many of our close friends.
How old were you when you were first introduced to the weaving process? And what was your introduction to this process like?
I come from a family of potters and tapestry weavers so I've always had an interest in arts and crafts. However, it wasn't until early last year that I sat down with mum and started learning how to weave properly. Like any art form, tapestry weaving is based on a skill set that needs to be mixed with a great deal of intuition and patience. My favorite part of weaving is trusting your own instincts enough to use these skills to break a few rules and come up with something new.
Where do you build these weavings? How would you describe your workspace?
I converted our spare bedroom into a studio, which has so much space and light, as well as being a place that I can have all my materials and equipment organized. It has become my personal sanctuary, which is filled with some of my favorite pieces of pottery and artwork.
I customized my loom so that it is fairly portable, as I generally prefer to weave in our living room where I have a clear view to the back deck and beyond to the garden. Even though we are only a couple of kilometers from the city center it is surprisingly quiet and peaceful, and often it is just the cat and I with our favorite records and my trusty Chemex (a girl needs a coffee break!), weaving for hours on end.
The patterns and colors in your work are so bold yet gentle. Do these patterns emerge organically or are do you sketch them out ahead of time? Describe your process with building these beautiful creations!
When I first started weaving I was exploring the relationships between specific colors and textures while simultaneously learning a wide variety of techniques. Color has always been my main focus; I love the way certain colors interact with others and create unions and contrasts. Another consideration is, of course, the natural environment. The textures and forms in nature inevitably find their way into my designs and they are my constant inspiration. My choice of color palette has evolved from my initial favorites of corals, turquoises and aqua to more earthy tones, and now I'm open to anything and everything. Apart from playing around with early sketches in my notebook, the first real inspiration often happens during my visit to my favorite wool stockist. Here I can see and feel the beautiful yarns and rich colors, lay them side-by-side, reject some and gather up others. I'm like a kid in a candy store!
With my recent works I have been incorporating certain concepts, which have meaning relating specifically to the brief of the intended buyer. For example, the weaving I'm currently finishing is using shape and color to define the union of two individuals (a wedding present). By careful selection of warm and cool colors and the merging of two circles into an eclipse, I am illustrating the joining of two separate identities into a stronger whole.
But, even though the process sounds so meticulously planned, I also like to let the weaving evolve organically, so I am regularly changing design elements and adding and subtracting colors as the work evolves. In the end I still work best by instinct rather than a predetermined path, so usually the finished piece looks nothing like the original sketch. There is also a stress period and a “mood curve” that happens when I weave. The process involves a lot of second-guessing and fear at the beginning followed by relief and excitement as it all comes together. At the end I get to stand back and look at an idea that has been brought to life and it brings me a sense of joy. (It's an emotional roller coaster being an artist).
What kinds of materials do you work with?
I prefer to work with natural fibers—mostly Australian hand dyed wools. I use a custom-built frame loom, which I sit on an artist’s easel. This allows me to move about the loom freely and adjust the angles and height to suit. My mum recently gave me a beautiful Navajo style hand carved weavers comb which is a little work of art in itself but I still can't be without my trusty companion “Forky”; he's a standard old kitchen fork and he works so perfectly well that I don't think he'll ever leave my side (sorry mum!). I prefer to keep my equipment and materials fairly minimal and not get too distracted by anything I don't really need. When I create it is more about the idea and creativity; I don't want anything to complicate and distract from the purity of that ideal.
What is your favorite kind of material to work with?
Depending on the design and look I'm trying to achieve, I love the play between soft smooth Australian Merino wool and the coarser more robust tweed wools. Because my work is generally based around geometric forms, I love how mixing these two fibers can give the finished piece a three-dimensional element.
Do you do complete any other artistic projects besides weaving?
Absolutely. There are some amazing experiences to be had out there, and why not give things a go?! Each time I try something new, no matter how small, it gives me the confidence and inspiration to push further. I worked on a range of hand-made feather collars a few years ago. Each collar was put together one tiny feather at a time to create these wonderful little works of wearable art. A friend of mine sent one of the collars to Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes and she wore it on the cover of a couple of magazines, which was a surreal moment!
Being obsessed with all things ceramic has given me no choice but try my hand at pottery; you can't feel more connected to the earth than building something beautiful from clay and water. My husband and I both love good organic food, but over the years have found it a bit hard to make time for new cooking ideas. We've made a pact to try one new.
What inspires your work most? Is there anything specific (an object, a picture, an album) in your studio/workspace that inspires you as you work? Do any other artists and/or weavers inspire you?
My biggest inspiration would be my family and friends. Being surrounded by creative and wonderfully giving people is one of the most important things in life. My home is also a constant source of inspiration; it's full of collected treasures and memories that I have accumulated over the years. It's a wonderful thing to look around my home and see all these beautiful hand-crafted objects that have been made with so much love.
Besides for weaving, name 3-5 other things that you love to do with your spare time.
I'm utterly obsessed with textiles and pottery, and I love a good hunt through thrift stores/antique shops to see what treasures I can unearth. The thrill of the chase is almost the best part, although sometimes I get a little too excited. My husband calls this my “overload” stage. How much treasure can a girl handle before she needs a little sit down? I think once your arms are full it's time to take a deep breath! Good thing for me, I also work in a vintage store; a girl also needs a good discount.
I also love gardening, walking and just being outside in the fresh air (to recover from all that thrift shop madness). I live in Queensland on top of a hill near a mountain in the center of a city. Walking in Paddington is like experiencing the vibrant energy of a city mixed with the peace and beauty that a mountain backdrop provides. You can walk through hours of beautiful parks or just tread the roads and get excited about the colonial wooden houses, it is truly a stunning place to get inspired when you need a break.