Open up to all the senses as embroidery is transformed into 3D art by JC Bölke.

In Somerset West, contemporary embroidery artist JC Bolke is proving that you can feel colour as much as see it. A visual arts teacher who has taught from Asia to The Middle East, he now travels through his works, finding their way into collections across the world.

While JC has been commissioned to cover a range of subjects, including landscapes consisting of forty different colours, portraits are a favourite.

“I started doing my embroidery artworks back in China when I was stuck in lockdown and wondering what I was going to do with myself. I started selling it when I came back to South Africa – and within the first month three of my artworks sold,” shares JC.  

So, the obvious question is why embroidery?

“I find that this is more calming than painting and more unique. When I create my art it’s like medication and I focus on the process and creating the artwork itself – so it’s just like yoga but instead of yoga it’s art and embroidery,” he adds.  

It’s earning a rightful place next to paintings, sculptures and prints as a formal category of art.

Currently JC is exhibiting some of his works at Deepest Darkest Art Gallery in Cape Town City Centre – forming part of the group exhibition called ‘Alchemy’.  

JC’s art expresses a range of emotions, and has him balancing his own inspiration with commissions for art like wedding anniversary portraits.

Having completed his Postgraduate certificate in education, JC is a step closer to teaching at University level, amongst other plans.

What Laduma Ngxokolo has achieved for Xhosa knitwear, may JC Bolke do for our local embroidery tradition. Strength to his hand.

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