Press "Enter" to skip to content


Digital release of ‘The Lacemakers: The Lost Art Of Telling’, July 2021

Jackie explains all in this blog post all about The project:

‘During 2018 I was delighted to be given the opportunity to spend some time as an artist in residence at MERL, through an exciting project launched by EFDSS. I was tasked with creating a new piece of music to be performed at the end of my residency, alongside lots of varied forms of education work.

It took me quite a while to decide where to focus my attention – and I spent many hours walking through the museum, and searching through the museum archives. Having moved to Wallingford a few years previously – I was keen to develop my knowledge of the area in terms of its connection to traditional songs. Initially I explored lots of aspects of traditional songs, traditions and pastimes from Berkshire.

My spark of inspiration came when I attended the wonderful ‘FOLK’ Late at the museum that October, when I came across the ‘cattern cake’ decorating area, and a guided tour by leading Lace expert, Professor David Hopkin. Ollie Douglas, the museum curator introduced me to David and we quickly chatted through various aspects of ‘lace telling’ – songs sung by lace makers as they whiled the hours making intricate lace patterns.

This meeting for me, was very profound as it united several great loves. I have always been very drawn to textile crafts, and slightly envious of the wonderfully rich collection of Scottish ‘waulking’ songs (songs sung in Gaelic by women whilst fulling cloth. I knew about the singing of female glove makers from the Somerset area whom Cecil Sharp spent many hours collecting songs with. However, I wasn’t aware that there existed a definite English tradition of women’s work songs. I soon realised that ‘lace tells’ represent a huge proportion of the women’s work songs – albeit often without tunes.

There was something deeply familiar about the building where the MERL collection now lives, the Cattern cake recipe, and the lace bobbins on display in the museum. It finally dawned on me; that all were very significant to my childhood. My mother lived in the very same building whilst she was a student at the university of Reading – it being formally known as ‘St Andrews Hall’. Likewise ‘Cattern Cakes and Lace’ was a book that had lived on a shelf in our house, and lacemakers bobbins had sat in a little wooden fabric box in our dining room, without me knowing what they were.  That autumn, I had spent a panicked few weeks trying to empty the old house before my second child was born, in order to look after my Mum, who was by then in the grips of a very rapid, degenerative illness. In my panic, I had removed both of these precious things and sent them out into the world.

My piece, The Lacemakers, celebrates the lost art of lace telling, by bringing some of these lace songs back to life in the manner to which I like to imagine, they would have sounded. Where tunes no longer exist, I have matched words to folk tunes and songs from the local area. Alongside the songs, I have included a little narrative insight into the lives of the lace makers of the area. I am delighted to be joined by my musical friends John Spiers and Mike Cosgrave.’

Visit Bandcamp to download the ballad and watch this space for a new video concert of the Lacemakers later this year!

The voice of the ‘Yoto player’ nursery rhymes

Jackie has sung and recorded fifteen traditional nursery rhymes for an innovative company called Yoto who make a music player for young children. Listen to a snippet of Grand Old Duke of York

Singing and Instrumental workshops

Jackie is an experienced singing and music workshop leader and enjoys working with a range of age groups on a great many musical themes! Since her work with Shooting Roots as a teenager, Jackie has taught at a number of major festivals, leading workshops in fiddle skills, harmony, fiddle singing, vocal harmony and lullabies. She regularly teaches children in groups and individually.

Global Music Match

Global Music Match was a pilot initiative created by founding partners Sounds Australia, Showcase Scotland Expo and East Coast Music Association, along with export organisations and showcase events from around the world. 

The aim of the project was to continue raising the profile of local artists in international music markets within the challenging parameters of the COVID 19 pandemic. The program sought to make use of social media and peer-to-peer collaboration in order to increase networks and exposure for export-ready artists internationally. 

Jackie was one of twelve folk acts representing England, and was matched with artists from six different countries. Over the course of six weeks, she interviewed, collaborated and shared material over social media platforms.

Musicians In Museums

Jackie was the artist in residence at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, during 2018-2019, as part of the ‘Musicians In Museums’ project launched by EFDSS and Help Musicians Charity. During her residency, Jackie ran educational sessions on the theme of the ‘Tangible and the Intangible’ – teaching about English Folk Songs and their relation to the artefacts at the museum. 

Jackie also conducted a body of research on the role of folk song in local textile tradition, particularly hand bobbin lace making. 

The project culminated in a performance of her radio ballad ‘The Lacemakers – The Lost Art Of Telling’, at South Street Arts Centre in Reading during January 2020, featuring renowned folk musicians John Spiers and Mike Cosgrave.

The performance explores the long lost tradition of lace telling – songs sung by the lace-making girls to both learn the intricacies of the task and as an outlet for the tribulations of the time. 

In Conversation With Trees

In Conversation With Trees was a unique musical collaboration specially curated by Fiona Talkington with Thomas Strønen, Hannah James and Jackie Oates.

The group had only been brought together a few days before and delivered a thoughtful and emotional piece which was rapturously received by the audience in St Mary’s Minster, Reading.

With occasional narrations from the pulpit by Fiona Talkington, the trio crafted an entrancing web of music, spoken word, song and wild clog dancing.