UK embroidery artist, Dr. Ian Nigel Hurlstone, has been presented with The Fine Art Textiles Award for 2023 for his entry, The Terrible Sight of Right and Wrong.
The Fine Art Textiles Award is an international juried exhibition open to all amateur and practising artists using textiles, cloth and thread as their primary medium. The award recognises the creative talents and skills of a broad community of high-calibre artists, including quilters, and celebrates the place of textiles amongst high art. Entries must transcend their craft or making process to stand alone as gallery-quality fine art. A £5,000 prize is presented to the winning artist, with a prize of £500 for Most Innovative Use of Textiles for an artist that demonstrates a particularly complex or powerful approach to the use of textiles.
The Terrible Sight of Right and Wrong is an embroidered portrait that combines photography, digital print and machine embroidery techniques. A photographic image has been digitally printed onto cotton organdie and stitched using a domestic sewing machine. A multitude of thread changes are utilised to create a moiré effect, accentuated by layering with offset printed base cloths. Processes of production are blurred and deliberately ambiguous.
Describing his award-winning entry, Dr. Ian Nigel Hurlstone said: “In The Terrible Sight of Right and Wrong, I explore an enduring fascination with ‘dressing-up’, a conjuring trick that allows a glimpse of other lives; from cricketer to curate. This self-portrait tells of the potential of garments to oscillate between their practical, gendered and fashionable territories into uncharted psychological, emotional and cinematic terrains. Printed onto cloth and then embroidered, the image is disrupted through a veiling of thread; the subject appears and disappears as if following the slight of a magician’s hand.”
The Fine Art Textiles Award 2023 attracted 255 entries from all over the world, with 14 entries shortlisted for the main prize. This year’s Award judges were textile artists James Hunting, Ptolemy Mann and Maggie Scott, design writer, commentator and founder of the Material Matters podcast and fair, Grant Gibson, writer, curator, editor and consultant, Jo Hall, and the Royal School of Needlework’s Hand Embroidery degree course leader, Angie Wyman.
Commenting on Dr. Hurlstone’s winning work, judge Jo Hall said: “The use of traditional machine embroidery breaks from convention with the result that the surface is read in an entirely innovative way. It’s a meticulous marriage of concept, execution and approach. The artist’s investigation of concepts around identity, dressing up and imagined lives blurs the boundaries between real and projected images of the self, whether in personal or wider narratives. The virtuosity in conveying this concept in executing the work set it apart. An important aspect of The Fine Art Textiles Award is to challenge expectations and assumptions around textile art, taking it beyond surface decoration or pure technique into new territory while addressing the essential qualities of textile as a unique visual language. This work answers those concerns admirably.”
Nigel Hurlstone was awarded a Ph. D. in textiles by Manchester Metropolitan University in 2000 and has worked as an artist, writer and senior lecturer for the last 20 years, with a studio in Ffynnongroyw, North Wales. His work examines central themes of masculinity, sexuality, loss and desire.
The award for Most Innovative Use of Textiles was presented to Isobel Currie, a 3D embroidery artist from Stockport, for her entry, Interlaced and Fly Stitched Estuary.
Describing her Award entry, Isobel Currie said: “In my continuing exploration of the structural and sculptural potential of stitching in three dimensions, the traditional subject of the embroidered landscape has been rendered in a contemporary form, using the topology of an estuary as inspiration. Fly stitch and a composite interlaced stitch are used to sculpt the contours and textures of the land and water and a fabric layer denotes the waterline. The threads follow flowing curves and span the full height of the piece, passing through the fabric to create the shape and form of the landscape above and below ground level.”
The jury praised Interlaced and Fly Stitched Estuary, commenting on its concept and exceptional execution.
Award judge Jo Hall said: “The transformation of stitch into three dimensions using tensioned thread embodies the conceptual and complex approach that the judges were looking for in awarding this prize. The work is engaging, drawing people in via its intimate scale while intriguing viewers, thanks to its challenging construction. The judges were highly impressed with the technical skill of the artist, and the overall presentation of the work.”
Winning and shortlisted entries for The Fine Art Textiles Award 2023 will be on public display at The Festival of Quilts for its 20th anniversary event at the NEC Birmingham from 3rd – 6th August, moving to The Knitting & Stitching Show, the UK’s biggest textile art, craft and design event, in London (5th – 8th October) and Harrogate (16th – 19th November).
Previous winners of The Fine Art Textiles Award are Jess Blaustein for Table Settings (2022), Woo Jin Joo for 虎死留皮，人死留名。(translation: ‘When a tiger dies, it leaves behind its skin. When a man dies, he leaves behind this name.’, 2021), Shelly Goldsmith for Locus of the Dress (2020) and Ann Goddard for On the Brink (2019). Awards for Most Innovative Use of Textiles have been presented to Tanya Bentham for The Three Living and The Three Dead 2021 (2022), Laura Thomas for Indigo Twist (2021), Marie Jones for Daring Greatly (2020) and Marilyn Rathbone for Self-Avoiding Walk (2019).
Full information about The Fine Art Textiles Award 2023 can be found on The Festival of Quilts website at: www.thefestivalofquilts.co.uk/the-fine-art-textiles-award/.
The Festival of Quilts is Europe’s leading patchwork and quilting event and attracts 22,000 visitors who come along to enjoy 700 hung competition quilts, spectacular galleries by internationally acclaimed textile artists and groups, an extensive programme of workshops, talks, lectures and demonstrations, social events and shopping.
The Festival of Quilts 20th Anniversary edition takes place at the NEC Birmingham from 3rd – 6th August 2023. Tickets are available at www.thefestivalofquilts.co.uk. Tier 3/Onsite ticket prices cost £26.00 per adult, concessions £24.00, children under 18 free if accompanied by an adult. No transaction fees apply.