Selby Hurst Inglefield (b. 1997) lives and works in London. Interview by Maria Owen.
MO: Hi Selby! Can you tell me a bit about your background and what led you to your current artistic practice, particularly your tapestries?
SHI: I’m from Brighton and I work and live in London. I started making my rugs in the final year of my degree at CSM, before that I experimented with lots of different mediums. I think I was feeling a little lost when going into third year and I lacked confidence with what I wanted to make, which was an interesting turning point for my practice. Within my practice I was looking at themes of the mundane, nostalgia, comfort, home and safety and I wanted to try and fulfill this materially. I decided to go back to textiles as it’s always been a very constant thing in my life. My mum’s a textiles artist and teacher so I always did textiles with her as a child. This link created the comfort I was searching for. Initially the rugs were supposed to be floor pieces but as they developed it was clear they worked better as wall hangings.
MO: Some of your rug-punching pieces are quite large and time-consuming – how do you prepare to undertake a new piece, and how do you decide what to explore?
SHI: For my larger works I like to plan by drawing and painting on paper before-hand, so I have an idea of the layout, but I always leave room for what feels and looks right in the moment. I usually draw it a few times and try different colour combos, but I mostly explore whilst making the piece, picking up random materials and wool as I go. I’m really enjoying experimenting with adding different materials onto the rugs, for example in my last large piece, ‘Harmony between selves’ I added beads and straw and buttons. I don’t like to restrict myself when I make the larger works as I almost do them as an exercise to have fun and experiment and let loose. I do all my pieces by hand and the big ones take about 3 months to complete, it’s a very repetitive action so I almost going into a meditative state, just thinking and making. It’s very therapeutic.
MO: Last year you were awarded the The Other Art Fair’s Graduate Art Prize – congratulations! You mentioned in that interview that you feel quite inspired by the domestic – can you elaborate?
SHI: Thank you! Yes, the domestic pops up a lot within my practice, as I mentioned I’m inspired by the ideas of comfort and safety but especially the mundanity of a domestic space. I always like the idea of touch and comfort within the mundane and how items in our homes become part of the furniture and we forget they’re there. I enjoy that I’m taking an object we’d usually step on and placing it on the wall. When I hang up the larger pieces in my house to see what they look like it really creates a different feeling to the room. As the large pieces take up so much of the room It feels very comforting. The imagery on my rugs tend to have multiple different meanings for me and I enjoying creating this by using recurring objects, places or animals. A lot of the rugs almost link together in my head.
MO: You say the imagery on your rugs has various meanings for you – can you give an example?
SHI: I like to use a lot of birds in my work to represent people – for example, my parents, friends, ex-partners and even myself… I use animals in my work as I like the fact they don’t talk so it’s easy to see and create a person in them and how they’re represented in the rug. I tend to write a lot before I make which I feel is just process so I never show them. The stories and rugs tend to be a combination between reality and fantasy. I link the writings back to the rugs by taking lines and making it the title. I feel it gives the viewer hints of what the piece is about but I like leaving it up to interpretation too.
MO: Finally, can you tell me a little about what’s inspiring you right now? Books, films, people, situations?
SHI: I feel initially I’m inspired by memories/places and past things in my life and like to find a way to represent them through my rugs. Also as I mentioned I enjoy getting inspiration from the mundane and the domestic everyday.
The author and artist Leonora Carrington inspires me, she had a really lovely way of mixing the surreal and her real life in her writings which is something I often do within my practice. I especially like her book ‘The Debutante and Other Stories’.
I’m also really getting inspired by old books about rug making at the moment, my best mate got me one for my birthday and ever since then I keep finding them in charity shops, it’s really interesting collecting them and reading about the technical side. I like knowing about the traditional ways of making for when rugs were purely made for domestic purposes and how that contrasts to how artists make rugs now.
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