Local Heroes: Rug tufting
Local Heroes interviews Dana Finnigan, Molly Kent, Camila Richardson and Shona MacPherson to find out more about their work and rug tufting as a form of expression
Contemporary designers and artists in Scotland are pushing the disciplinary boundaries between textile design and fibre art with rug tufting. This is a technique that employs a pneumatic gun to shoot yarn through a fabric base to create a functional rug or a decorative wall hanging.
Molly Kent is an Edinburgh based textile artist who represents aspects of mental and physical health through the mediums of rug tufting and weaving. Her work considers aspects of contemporary existence through the lens of social media and internet living and explores how this affects our perception of self. This stems from Kent’s personal experiences of her mental health condition CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), but also reflects on wider anxieties and fears that have come to the fore as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inspired by seeing artist Trish Anderson working with the process of tufting on Instagram, Kent began producing small scale tufting with hand punch needles, before investing in electric, and more recently, a pneumatic tufting machine and air compressor to help speed up the process, and enable her to create larger and more dynamic works.
“Tufting for me has very much sparked a love affair with textiles, and I have also begun to produce work through weaving and domestic knitting machines.”
Her series Doubt in the Digital Age, which is ongoing, contains pieces that “intend to overwhelm the senses, mirroring the feeling of doubt, through the juxtaposition of colour, phrases and form.” Taking the domestic form of the rug and shifting its presentation, the objects she makes climb walls, or morph into forms that resemble viruses or bacteria. This plays on the idea that “doubt can be perceived as a disease that, over time, shifts and morphs to continue its hold over us.”
You can see Kent’s work in a new digital exhibition called Adjust / Adapt at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre; a partnership between The Scottish Furniture Makers Association and Visual Arts Scotland, curated by Janine Matheson (until 24 Apr). Kent’s work Doubt Mutates and Spreads will also be exhibited at the Vlieseline Fine Art Textile Award showcase and will soon be hosted and represented for sale through New Cube Art, an exciting new Gallery founded by Bibi Zavieh.
Limited private sales can currently be found at mollyhkent.co.uk
s i l e n z i o !
s i l e n z i o ! is led by Dana Finnigan who creates modern craft, art and design pieces including ceramics; hand-printed wallpaper; papier mâché sculptures and vessels; and hand tufted accessories. Finnigan became interested in tufting during her 15-year career working in the interior textile design industry, where she met traditional rug and carpet manufacturers and discovered that this was something that could be created by an individual maker. She now runs tufting workshops from her studio in Glasgow.
“About four years ago I became aware of videos on social media of makers working with tufting guns. For many years, I had worked mainly in digital textiles and had a longing to create something more tactile and made with my own hands. I felt that the more craft-based aesthetic you can create with basic tufting guns was in line with the direction I wanted my work to head in. I found you could buy the tufting guns from the USA; I purchased my first gun and my practice began there.”
Finnigan describes her work as a contemporary response to the new craft movement where she can push the limits of each medium in order to create new and unique pieces.
“I am heavily influenced by mid-century artists and makers including Lucienne Day, Willem de Kooning and the later works of Pablo Picasso. I try to create work with an abstract aesthetic and that comes from a mindful place and employs a peaceful naivety.”
Dana Finnigan’s rugs and wall hangings are available to buy through the s i l e n z i o ! website as well as at craft marketplaces such as Quality Craft Vision and Tea Green events
Camila Richardson is a multimedia artist who studied Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee and is now based in Edinburgh. Textiles was the first artform Richardson engaged with as a young person and she included a handmade latch and hook rug as part of her degree show. Richardson has spent the last seven years teaching art in a variety of alternative education settings. During lockdown she found herself having more time to focus on her own practice and tufting has been the result.
“Rugs have always been of interest to me. The practicality and tactile aspect is something I have always loved. I really enjoy learning new skills, so when I discovered rug tufting during the first lockdown, I knew I wanted to find out more. I found that s i l e n z i o ! were doing a short course in Glasgow so immediately signed up. I loved it from the outset. Dana is an excellent teacher. Themes in my work have always revolved around play and education. I have created a strong childlike aesthetic and have always been intrigued by interactive ways to be around art. I have many influences, but I would say that having fun and humour often take the lead. It's the best therapy really.”
Camila Richardson currently takes commissions and sells online via Instagram at @cami.landiya
Shona MacPherson is the designer behind T_U_F_T's ‘geological tutfing’ where every rug (or bath mat) is based on a specific place or location, chosen by the buyer or commissioner.
“I aim to peel back different layers of geological history and involve them in the design of each bespoke piece. I’m moving towards making larger commissions rather than bath mats, but it was a great starting point.”
Her recent piece at Glasgow’s CCA was a collaboration with India Boxall called Growing under Glass, which was presented as a window display for Welcome Home as part of the inaugural Scottish Craft Week by Craft Scotland. Camphill Earthworks is based on a geological feature in Queen’s Park with the same name. The earthwork is thought to be one of the oldest surviving man-made features in Glasgow.
You can contact T_U_F_T via their Instagram @t_u_f_t for commissions and enquiries about 'artwork you can walk on.'