burton art gallery and museum
gallery highlights




Kingsley Road, Bideford, Devon EX39 2QQ

Telephone: 01237 471455
Email: info@theburton.org

Admission is Free
Open Daily 10am - 4pm
Sundays 11am - 4pm

Wai-Yuk Kennedy

Wai-Yuk Kennedy was born in Hong Kong. Her family owned a small textile factory so she learnt to sew and use a sewing machine from a young age. After leaving school she studied graphic design and worked for a Hong Kong company designing gloves. During the same period she became skilful at dressmaking and pattern cutting.

In 1978 Wai-Yuk came to England to study fine art. She gained a BA (Hons) from Kingston Polytechnic in 1982. In 1986 she moved to Cornwall and at this time raising a family and helping her husband with his business took up much of her time. However, she always made time to continue exploring her craft using many different textile techniques.

Over the past few years she has been devoting ever more time to her textiles and she now has a large and beautiful textile studio to use. Making jewellery of various kinds has been an obsession of hers for a long time. Using fabric to create jewellery pieces is something she has been developing for a couple of years.

The influences of Wai-Yuk’s work are as diverse as her background. Her love of old Chinese stories and legends collides with her day-to-day experience of the Cornish landscape. She finds that her Fine Art training interacts with her fascination for the practical aspects of sewing and pattern making.

The process of making her textile jewellery can be divided into two distinct parts each with its distinctive challenges and rewards.
Wai-Yuk describes creating her fabrics as a never-ending process of discovery: the fabric grows and changes as semi-transparent layers are added and then parts are melted away to reveal the hidden colours beneath. As a child Wai-Yuk was fascinated by the play of light on running water. She would spend hours watching how objects and surfaces were continually distorted, hidden and revealed beneath a shimmering surface.
Wai-Yuk finds that making the finished jewellery pieces a search for fresh and surprising 3D forms that can be made from little bits of fabric. Forms for smaller pieces such as earrings often grow from playing around with simple shapes. The brooches tend to be much more complex and she often finds inspiration in the world for these. It may never be apparent to an outside observer but many of Wai-Yuk’s brooch forms have grown out of her experience of the rugged North Cornwall coast. Others come from a long-time love of studying plant forms.

lottery funded