Nigel Hurlstone (b. 1970) studied for a BA in Embroidered Textiles at the former Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University) where he was awarded a first-class honours degree. He then gained a MA (distinction) in textiles and was one of the first graduates to be a awarded a Ph.D with practice by MMU in 2000. He has worked simultaneously as a practitioner, writer and senior lecturer for the past twenty years and in 2014, established a studio in Ffynnongroyw, North Wales.
The practice is first and foremost grounded in the process of stitch. Whilst hand and machine techniques are utilised, current work focusses more exclusively on machine based applications. Irish and Cornely machines are exploited for their mark making potential, but the majority of the work exploits the domestic machine with double and treble needles to produce new cloth structures rather than applied decoration. This approach to stitch often borrows the principles of loom based weave structures for inspiration. The resulting textiles are essentially hybrid cloths that in their aesthetic and structure exist between the disciplines of weave and embroidery. Stitch is used in conjunction with digitally printed substrates ranging from heavy pile surfaces such as velvet, to the finest of silk organzas. The work aims to fuse the printed and stitched mark within one surface, creating a unique textile in which processes of production become blurred and alchemy prevails. Perdominantly working for a gallery context, Hurlstone also produces sample work for trend forecasting and fashion applications.
In terms of content, visual practice is concerned with the (re)presentation of the photographic image through stitch and digital print processes, and examines central themes of masculinity, sexuality, loss and desire in both historical and contemporary contexts. Current work is concerned with revealing the marginalised and largely undocumented development of domestic homosexual relationships in Britain 1900-1970’s. It hopes to prompt new insights into representations of gay men in order to ‘re-scope’ the historic figure of the gay male away from Wildean models or Carpenter’s comradely ideals, to a cross-class, cross-economic and inter-generational grouping who possessed an assured sense of sexual agency and identity.
The methods utilised in the work are also inter-disciplinary in their scope. Hurlstone has recently begun to explore the interface between writing, performance and object making within the gallery space. He has authored a series of six short stories which attempt to expand on the narratives held within the cloth based work. Performative ‘readings’ of those texts in combination with the production and ‘showing’ of artefacts, formulate new avenues for ways in which his craft, and the ideas which influence its production, can be accessed and understood.