Industrial plastic and disused scaffolding netting aren’t the first materials you would consider using in high-end, high-quality interiors. But that’s exactly what textile artist Jo Hague from Lostwithiel uses in her large-scale art installations.
“While walking on the beach on the Isles of Scilly, I came across some geo textile matting that is normally used to prevent coastal erosion. As soon as I touched it, I knew I could do something with it once it had fulfilled its primary function and that’s what started my journey into repurposing and reusing industrial materials that would otherwise go into our oceans, landfill or incineration.”
After 25 years working as a health and social care trainer, Jo decided to follow the dream she had wanted to pursue since the age of 18 and completed a three-year textile degree at Falmouth University.
Upon graduating in 2019, she set up a studio at home and was spotted almost immediately by an interior design shop in London for one of her large-scale installations. She was then invited to showcase her work at an exclusive exhibition to be held at Bedruthan Hotel.
“I was just at the point where I was ready to launch my business; I had invested a lot of time and money and created numerous pieces when the COVID-19 crisis hit and the whole country went into lockdown. My exhibition was postponed indefinitely, and I was left feeling really disheartened, like my whole business dream was being swept from under me.”
Seeing an Outset Cornwall advert on Instagram prompted Jo to get in touch with the team, who suggested she join the next round of business start-up training being delivered online via Zoom.
“The Outset course has been really useful. I’ve learnt so many different elements to running a business; from finance to finding your target market, packaging to setting up a returns policy, and I’ve used so many of the ideas and suggestions already. The Selling Online session was particularly helpful, as it’s allowed me to get my full product range online and generate sales, even during lockdown.”
Jo is very conscious of her environmental impact; she washes the disused plastic in rainwater to avoid waste and all her additional materials are organic, fair trade and ethically sourced.
“Having the opportunity to complete the Outset course online instead of driving somewhere to attend sessions and increasing my carbon footprint was a real bonus. Outset also gave me some fantastic ideas about how I could communicate my sustainability values to my customers and make my work more personal. Now, every piece a customer buys comes with a certificate of authenticity, including source details and a description of the materials, as well as a small sample so they can really see how their artwork has evolved.”
As the country moves out of lockdown, and shops and businesses start to reopen, Jo is optimistic about the future.
Jo now has work on sale in London once again, the Bedruthan Hotel are hanging two of her large-scale pieces until the exhibition can be rearranged, and sales and commissions from her new online shop are continuing to grow.
“To anyone considering joining the Outset programme I would say set yourself some time to focus on your idea and go for it – you never know where it will lead. The tutors were superb, they listened to me and I knew I could ask questions at any stage, it was fantastic to have so much support and information.”
Visit Jo’s website to read more about her business and see her work – www.johague.co.uk