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The Art of Viking – Kate Jenkins

Brighton-based artist Kate Jenkins’ knitted artwork is a firm favourite of the Viking art collection on board our ocean ships. She tells us more about her food-inspired creations.

How did you start knitting and crocheting food?
I was actually making fashion accessories when I decided to knit a full English breakfast and people loved it so much. I found I was good at making things look realistic. In essence, I wanted to stand out and grab people’s attention and it has ended up taking me down a whole new career path.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve made?
I knitted an entire fish counter from scratch – it was massive! I had the idea in my head, and visited different fish markets all over the world – like those in Tokyo, Copenhagen, and Billinsgate in London – for inspiration. It was an interactive exhibition so I was dressed as a fishmonger, and people could come to buy a piece from the fish counter, which we would then frame on a plate. I made lobster, mussels, cockles, salmon, flat fish, plaice, kippers… everything you would usually see. It looked so real that people were really doing a double take. At the other end of the scale, tins of sardines are popular, and sushi, too. I’ve made lots of Scandinavian open sandwiches featuring lots of prawns. It takes about an hour to knit a prawn or a sardine, and then I embellish them with sequins and beads.

How did your creative partnership with Viking come about?
The company got in touch with me after seeing my work in a gallery on Charlotte Street in London. I love that my work is floating around the world as part of the amazing Viking art collection! And that people are eating their breakfast looking at crocheted versions of their food! So many people commission me after seeing my work on board, so it’s been a really interesting collaboration. One Viking customer from New York commissioned me to make a crocheted, hand embroidered Mahjong set of playing tiles for his wife for Valentine’s Day. I’d never done them before, but I loved it. I like to think my work inspires people to think of creating a personal, one-of-a-kind piece.

You love to travel, but how do your trips inspire your work?
I’m always looking for places to source sequins – India is amazing for that. I can’t even begin to guess how many different sequins I use. I have a huge range of metallic, opalescent, and iridescent sequins for fish scales. And so much yarn as well! Japan is best for beads – the caviar I create for my canapés is made from black beads from Japan, and I also have the perfect beads to make a pinky-red fish roe.

What kind of food inspires you most?
I turned vegetarian this year – but I haven’t stopped making fish! I’m now obsessed with vegetables and cheese; I can’t stop thinking about how to make feta cheese look interesting! It probably needs a Greek salad… I’m good at tomatoes and cucumber, so I’m nearly there! I’m inspired by food from all over the world, so I’m thinking of “around the world in 80 dishes” as an exhibition theme.

How did you learn to knit so well?
My mum and my grandmother were always knitting and making things for me and my sister when I was growing up. We lived in the Rhymney Valley in South Wales and were always encouraged to make things, even as children.

What are you working on at the moment? 
I’m currently working on pieces to add to the art collections of the newest Viking ocean ships. I’m making crab and chilli linguine, a bouillabaisse that I have renamed “woolabaise”,a lobster bisque, cocktails and canapés, seafood spaghetti and a Scandinavian open sandwich.

You can admire Kate’s work in the World Cafe on board Viking’s ocean ships. Find out more about the Viking art collection and our Norwegian Heritage in our video here.

To find out more visit Kate’s website.

Read more about our ocean cruises here.

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