Jacqui Burke (1964) – Dunbar 1970s
I love to sit for hours watching the ever-changing sea, one minute a peaceful millpond, the next rough, dangerous and thrilling. The best birthday present I ever received was when I was five years old; my dog Dandy, whom I walked on the beaches and in the woods, in and around Dunbar. It’s true, man’s best friend is his dog.
Growing up in the 1970s, Dunbar was a holiday haven, always a “buzz of excitement in the air”. From the early age of eleven I always worked, as a cashier at Johnny’s Amusement Arcade, meeting interesting people, as a waitress in the Pop-In Tea Room and at St. Margaret’s Golf Club. I remember it always being hot and sunny; the amazing outdoor swimming pool where I learned to swim; various competitions – Miss Dunbar, Golden Sandcastle competitions, and Dandy winning the dog competition at Lauderdale Park. Exciting events: Lifeboat Day; Gala Day; pipe bands; vintage car rallies; circus; shows; the Victoria ballroom where new and famous bands played and busloads of tourists flocked. Dunbar was the place to be …
Even when I left in 1982-86 to study at the Scottish College of Textiles, I came home every weekend as Dunbar is such a magical place. I believe it is a magnet. I love the quality of life here. Creative spirit is nurtured in this tranquil location; it is easy to walk off an artistic seizure on the picturesque golf course which flanked my studio or on the beach beyond. If it all got too much I’d walk Kenzo (my dog); nature, textures and colours always revive me.
The inspirations for my collections are natural. My debut collection used the colours of the sea, sand and rocks, combined with linens, nets and wooden beads. An autumn collection took forest greens, aubergines and browns with textured fabrics representing bark and brushed vines, cuddly green fake fur coats with latex gargoyles poking out from a fluffy mass. The rugged coastline and rural countryside, the natural elements of their composition are translated into colour and texture. The cross fertilisation of high fashion and traditional quality proved fruitful.
There would be no place in the world where I’d rather bring up my children, who I wish to have the freedom and inspiration I have experienced. Why search the world for something that is on your very own doorstep? I am very lucky. I have such strong support from my family, in particular my mum, who has always been there for me.
I can step onto a train at 6am to London Kings Cross to meet with Japanese / overseas buyers, conduct my business and head for home at 5pm with an order tucked safely in my portfolio, step off the train at 9pm, walk along the beach to my home, stopping at mum’s for tea!
I have the best of both worlds -the excitement of the fashion scene without prostituting the quality of life. Dunbar has not lost its character and I’m very proud to be a part of its exciting future. The place to be …… the new Notting Hill! My work has just begun, I have proved that you don’t have to leave your hometown to compete in the worldwide marketplace. My collections shall continue to grace the runways of London, Paris and Japan. Who knows what the future will bring. I aim to create a Fashion School here to teach children exciting new skills and hopefully to have a thriving new fashion industry here in East Lothian.