Forget the stuffy reputation a bit of cross-stitch may have, because Evelin Kasiko is singlehandly dragging it into the contemporary arena. Originally from Estonia, and having developed a love of craft during her MA degree at Central St.Martin’s, she is now crafting some of the most staggering work I’ve seen in a long time. Almost unbearably precise and time-consuming, we couldn’t help but sit her down and quiz her about her practice in the lead up to her new show, Craft Meets Music, opening this month.
Hi Evelin – I was a little gobsmacked when I saw your work – can you tell us a little bit about you and what you do?
I have background in graphic design and my current work stems from my long-term fascination with printed matter. I started to experiment with handmade graphics during my MA at St Martins, to explore the space of print outside commercial practice. As part of my MA project I developed CMYK cross-stitch technique, which is transforms printing technology into handmade form. Craft is an interesting medium for me, but my embroidery is detached from what it is usually defined by. I work with handmade techniques but my work is analytical and rational. It is free from decorative and feminine associations of craft and this is exactly what makes my work different.
Are you a pretty patient person away from your practice?
Yes I would say so. The patient and time-consuming methods of creating my work reflect very well who I am as a person. As well as similar language, Estonians share the same personal characteristics with Finns: we tend to be shy and introverted. Finns have a joke about their personality: an average Finn will stare at his feet while talking to you, but an outgoing Finn will stare at your feet while talking to you!
What can we expect to see at your new show, Craft Meets Music which opens this month?
Craft Meets Music is a joint exhibition, together with jewellery designer An Alleweireldt. We both use old vinyl records as a starting point and source of inspiration. In my series of works craft meets music through graphic design. I am interested in materiality of the medium, how the image is produced and how it is perceived. I used small fragments of cover imagery to reveal halftone patterns, and stitched these enlarged dot screens on to twelve inch square format paper.
As part of my work I also looked at Soviet record covers from the 70s and 80s, released by the major state-owned record company in the USSR, Melodija. Based on visual language of these covers I created handmade patterns that play with the notion of stereo (they appear three-dimensional through colour or texture). This is a glimpse into Soviet pop-culture and a visual exploration into nostalgia in many forms – content, colour and type.
Craft Meets Music is open from 14 to 28 May 2010 at Craft Central, 33-35 St. John’s Square, London EC1M 4DS
You’re originally from Estonia – why did you decide to move over to London, and how is the design scene different?
I was working in advertising and I felt I needed a break form commercial practice. So I started to look for MA courses with strong typography programme – I really wanted to focus on personal work and I wanted to learn. To apply for St. Martins was a conscious decision, I had seen degree shows of MA Communication Design and I was really impressed by the high level of research and editorial design work.
I don’t think I can compare design scene in London and Tallinn: Estonia is a small country with a total population of just 1.3 million people. Graphic design in Estonia has been very commercial with almost no difference between design and advertising. We do not have strong typography traditions, majority of work produced by creative agencies is very visual; image is always preferred over type. However, the design scene has changed in recent years. Many young designers have studied abroad and have brought these influences back by setting up their own studios and collectives. What I love about London design scene is the spirit of experimentation and risk-taking. Many design companies also produce self-initiated, uncommissioned studio work, you don’t see that very often in Estonia.