In 1978 she came to England to study for a degree in fine art. While a student she met and married Alexander Kennedy and they later had two children. In 1986 she moved to Cornwall where she continued to develop her textile work alongside raising a family.
In 2006 she set up in business as a textile artist using a new studio in a converted pottery adjoining her home. Since then she has concentrated on making and exhibiting her jewellery and other textile work.
Wai-Yuk’s intricate textile jewellery begins with her making a sheet of base fabric. This is built up with layers of translucent material stitched together using machine embroidery, then areas of fabric are melted away exposing the colours beneath. She then cuts shapes from this fabric and applies further machine embroidery before twisting the piece into a three-dimensional shape and stitching it to retain the form. Final stitching and embellishment with crystals, etc. is then done by hand.
“The influences on my work are as diverse as my background. My love of old Chinese stories and legends collides with my day to day experience of the Cornish landscape. My Fine Art training interacts with my fascination for the practical aspects of sewing and pattern making. I draw inspiration from the many places I’ve visited: the plants and rivers of Hong Kong, the rugged shapes and textures of North Cornwall, the patterns and prints of India and the castles and gardens of Japan. I carry my camera with me everywhere so I can snap shots of the tiny wonders that catch my eye through the day.
Creating my fabrics is 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 I was fascinated by the play of light on running water. I would spend hours watching how objects and surfaces were continually distorted, hidden and revealed beneath a shimmering surface. Much of my work revolves around finding the new twists and surprising effects that grow from continually exploring a familiar set of processes.”