Q&A with textile artist Selby Hurst Inglefield

I was lucky enough recently to get the opportunity to talk to textile artist Selby Hurst Inglefield about her unique and original rugs. When I first saw her artwork I was fascinated by the distinctive imagery of her designs and was eager to find out more about her passion for the textile industry and where her inspiration comes from.

Hi Shelby Hurst Inglefield! Would you mind telling us a little about yourself and your background please? 

I’m Selby and I make rugs using the technique rug punching. I’ve recently graduated from Central St Martins UAL with a BA in Fine art. At uni I always experimented with different media but really focused on doing textile-based artwork in my final year of university. Conceptually my work led me to experiment again with textiles. Once I found the technique of rug punching, I became obsessed!

What inspires your work?

Many things inspire my work but mostly it’s ideas of home, nostalgia and the domestic space. That’s really why I wanted to make rugs. In my work I’m searching for comfort, the same comfort you would feel from the safety of home. I wanted to try and re-create that feeling of safety within my rugs.

Can you tell us about your creative process?

My practice develops and progresses from a lot of writing which develops naturally and becomes almost like a form of storytelling. As I write, the initial autobiography disappears and turns into storytelling. This has resulted in my practice becoming more surreal and childlike blending the lines between reality, fantasy and autobiography. From these writings, I do a lot of oil drawings either summing up the stories or particular sentences I use. If I then feel the drawings are strong enough, I turn them into rugs. I like to re-reference the stories in the titles of my works.

How do you go about selecting your colour combinations?

I have a rough idea from my oil pastel drawings however I really give myself artistic freedom when doing my rugs. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way I imagine them. Some pieces I enjoy experimenting with brighter colours, for example ‘Why do you rather it than me?’ It was important to me that it was really vibrant, so I used all of my brighter colours. I think it also depends on the story; I want it to make sense with my stories.

Which other textile artists do you love? Are there any that inspire you, past or present?

I really like a lot of rug punching artists but to narrow it down I’d have to say, Ellie Brennan @ellibrennan. She creates amazing large-scale tufted rugs of foods such as beans or chips and gravy, I think they’re just really imaginative and great. Someone else I really enjoy is Alexandra Montclair @alexandramontclair, another tufting artist, my favourite pieces she’s done is a series on the female gaze using female protagonists such as Carrie from horror films. Both artists just have such an amazing style and I think they’re really cool!

What do you enjoy most about working with textiles?

I’d have to say the materiality but also the time it takes to do. I enjoy long, mundane, repetitive tasks as I find them really relaxing and meditative. Rug punching takes a long time to do so I really appreciate slowing down and using it as thinking time.

We notice you mainly use wool in your work, have you experimented with other fabrics too?

Yes, I sometimes use acrylic too as I like the shiny texture it brings to the pieces however, I want to experiment further, in my current piece I’m using lots of different types of wools to create interesting textures. It’s really fun and it’s almost looking like it’s been woven. Separate from rug punching I like working with wet felt, however I’m not the best at it so still needs some work!

textile art by Selby Hurst Inglefield of 2 people, one in blues and the other in yellow and orange tones

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve created so far?

I like all my pieces for different reasons but I’d have to say my piece ‘Fuck off crow’. I think it’s just such a tranquil piece and I often find myself going to stare at it, I think it’s a piece people can easily get lost in for different reasons.

What are you currently working on? Are you able to share any ‘in-progress’ photos?

I’m currently working on a piece of a woman in the sea. It references the sea levels rising and what will happen to humanity. I’ve created a story based on the lost city of Atlantis, where everyone turns into sea monsters and becomes the sea. I’m having a lot of fun creating this piece, it’s been a challenge as I’m making it all blue so it’s interesting figuring out the different tones. It has been a lot of fun creating the sea. I’m using all of these wools I’ve been sitting on for a while not knowing when to use them.

What’s next for you in terms of textile projects? 

At the moment I’m just staying busy and continuing to make. I’ve just graduated so I’m making sure I don’t lose my momentum. I’m also applying for lots of residencies and competitions, so fingers crossed it works out!

What advice would you give someone looking to get into the textile art industry?

Just find something you enjoy doing, you need to love what you do to be able to keep doing it. It’s hard and disappointing at times so you should be having fun. I also think just go for it! Life’s too short to not do something you want to do, just keep busy keep applying to things and I’m sure it’ll work out.

We are making the effort to be more eco friendly in 2020. Do you have any tips or tricks to be more environmentally friendly in our day to day lives? 

I think generally being less wasteful by recycling, bringing your own coffee cup, buying a re-usable water bottle and straw. Small things I believe really add up and make a difference. But also, locally sourcing things like food and your materials. I buy all my wool locally from an independent shop or sometimes you find good wool in charity shops and jumble sales. I think the main thing is to just be conscious of your waste and how much you create.

Where can people find out more about you and your work Selby Hurst Inglefield?

People can keep up to date by following me on Instagram @selby_hi. I post a lot of work in progress shots and also some pictures of my cat on their so it’s good fun. But also, my website www.selbyhi.com

Thanks Selby Hurst Inglelfield, it’s been great getting to know you! 🙂

If you’ve enjoyed our Q&A with Selby Hurst and would like to be the first to see future Q&As with artists and rag ruggers, why not join our Rag Rug Community on Facebookfollow us on Instagram or join our fortnightly newsletter here. Or, for more pictorial work, why not check out the gorgeous work of another one of our Q&A victims, Donna Mulholland, here.

Donna Mulholland Hooked Artwork
Why not check out our Q&A with Donna Mulholland here.

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As always, happy rag rugging!

Elspeth x

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