Sally Hirst: “Someone recited a poem about my plastic bag crochet monsters”

We spoke to Future 20 Artist Sally Hirst to find out more about her artistic practice working with textiles and how the programme has impacted her.

What’s your artistic background?
When I was 13 years old I started enjoying observational art at school where I drawn and painted existing buildings. when I was 15 years old I became very ill so had to cut down on my love of sports and started to focus mainly on my art. At 16 years old I joined venture arts where I gained a love for ceramics and textiles. This is when I started doing more original artwork too.

Tell us about your practice now – what’s the most satisfying thing? The most challenging? How has it evolved?
I am currently working with textiles, the most satisfying bit about textiles is I like experimenting with different colours, patterns and textures. The most challenging part of textiles is learning a new technique because at first it can be very tricky but then it does get easier once I get into a rhythm. I have evolved by learning to work as part of a team of people with different skills such as musicians, glass blowers and film makers etc. I also enjoy seeing how artists have responded to my textiles such as when someone recited a poem about my plastic bag crochet monsters.

What made you want to be a part of Future 20?
I wanted to work with future 20 so I could improve my textiles and collaborate with different types of artists. I also wanted the opportunity to be part of the making of an exhibition and learning more about accessibility, which I did by creating the Easy Read booklet for this project.

What’s the most exciting part of this brief for you?
The most exciting part is learning about virtual reality and being able to create a world.

What do you think art brings to your life?
I find art gives me a voice as I am very shy but have strong opinions. I find art is a great tool to express how I am feeling about the world or how I see the world. It is also a great tool to create change.

We’re living in very unusual times – how do you think art can help us deal with that?
Art can help us cope with boredom, and brings communities together such as people displaying rainbows on the window. Art is also a good way to relax as lots of people are feeling stressed during this time.

What’s your biggest artistic ambition?
My biggest artistic ambition is to study art foundation at university.

Future 20 is a year-long project – how has that affected your practice?
Doing Future 20 for a year has meant I had enough time to experiment and take more risks with my art. I also found it gave me longer to build a relationship with the other artists.

What role do you think the arts should play in building the future?
Art is a more relaxed way of documenting a time or a big event compared to the news or social media. For example some people find seeing Covid-19 related stories on the news or social media can be very scary and upsetting but Walking past a rainbow can make people smile even though rainbows displayed on the window are COVID-19 related and document a big time/event.