Molly Kent is a fibre/installation artist living and working from Edinburgh, Scotland. Through ‘rug tufting’ her work explores doubt in the digital age. She utilises the visual aesthetic of glitch art to portray contemporary existence regarding social media and internet living. Her pieces are intended 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 it in presentation, the objects she makes climb walls, morphing before us resembling viral/bacterial forms. She explains that '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'. Read on to see our interview with Molly, and to find out more about her practice.
What is your background? How did you start working with rug tufting as a medium?
In all honesty, my experience with textiles and fibre before I began rug tufting was slim. Although I spent a lot of time as a child knitting and making some stuffed animals for family members. Over time I've used textiles as the base for paintings, or in small embroidery pieces. During the summer before my final year at Edinburgh College of Art. I started to see examples of rug tufting floating around on Instagram and was obsessed with the textural quality of the works. After some research into tools and base fabrics, I started by making all of my pieces by hand-punching each loop. I worked my way up to the machine tufting that I now employ in a lot of my works. I hadn’t found a medium that I had genuinely loved during my time at university; I was jumping between drawing, printmaking, painting and even started a pseudo-brand. But rug tufting offers so many possibilities, so many opportunities to combine previous techniques, expand the practice of the medium and expand my own practice.
Your pieces are colourful; almost acidic, and include unnerving text or sayings - how did you arrive at this visual and what themes do you explore?
The main theme I explore in my work, which is quite obvious through the text and phrases found in my work, is doubt. I started working with doubt about halfway through my degree. It came about as I was really doubting whether the university was right for me and if I was even cut out for art school etc. I was in a place of extreme doubts. I wasn’t sure where I should be taking my practice, so my practice became about those doubts, and it’s just continued from there. In addition to that, I would say paradox is quite an important theme. Each work contains a series of paradoxes that make for interesting, continuous readings - the longer we look the more links between the phrases, textures and forms etc. can be made. Links that I as the artist have crafted, but links that will develop from the viewers’ personal experiences and emotions. There’s an intentionally constant battle for dominance between which aspects matter most. This is evident in the soft textures fighting against the harsh phrases, and the organic shapes in contrast to the more rigid elements of glitch I work into the pieces.
How do you develop your ideas and what’s your process of working?
My work starts with research into doubt, the bacterial and viral forms and glitch art as well as other forms of art-making. After this, I begin to collate these into drawings and collages. I work between sketchbooks and digital programs like Photoshop and Procreate to develop blueprint sketches for potential works, redrawing until I feel the forms and colours are working harmoniously and portray the feeling and sensation of doubt that I'm creating, accurately. I’ll then project these design in reverse onto the stretched backing fabric and then the process of tufting begins. It’s not uncommon for me to go back and forth on a design even once the process had started. If after laying down the main element I feel something isn’t working as planned, I’ll redraw and replan before continuing tufting. It's a very forgiving medium.
How do you like to work?
I like to work in a fairly spontaneous manner. I’m not the best at planning out particular hours of the day for task A and the remainder for task B. I'll work on everything at the same time - with a million post-it notes on my desk to remind me of what needs doing in the near future. Similarly, when it comes to tufting, I’ll start with good intentions, filling in a certain section first before building up around that with other colours and textures. But I often end up too excited and start new sections before finishing others. There's an appeal in seeing how the colours are looking together. It might not work for some, but it suits me and my practice quite well currently. My studio can become a tad chaotic, however. It isn’t uncommon for there to be 20+ balls of yarn rolling around the floor as I work.
You're just finishing a Masters of Fine Arts Degree at Edingburgh Art College, what's next?
I will be staying in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, continuing my practice from my home studio with the aim to move to a larger, external studio so I can begin to work on some larger pieces. I was awarded the ‘RSA NEW CONTEMPORARIES 2021’ award for my degree show work, so will be exhibiting work in a group show at the Royal Scottish Academy in February 2021. I’m planning a slightly different series of work for this exhibition and will be spending a good portion of time researching and trialling for this. The hope is to show a large scale installation of fibre works. Otherwise, I’m intending to continue exhibiting and selling work to support myself alongside my part-time job as a librarian.
Molly is represented by New Blood Art you can find a selection of her work there for purchase. Additionally, she sells her work privately via her Instagram and her website. She is also open to commissions!