Textile artist starts residency at Selby Abbey

Serena Partridge in her Malton Studio

Yorkshire textile artist Serena Partridge has started her residency at Selby Abbey as part of Selby Stories, a new programme of cultural events that celebrates the town, its history and what makes it unique. 

The award-winning Malton-based mixed media artist will spend the Winter gathering stories and inspiration from the 900 year old historic Abbey and the many people who both work in and visit this special place.

She will then create artwork inspired by the stories that will be displayed to the public in Spring 2022. Plans for talks, tours and workshops about the artwork will also be developed to inspire people to get more involved with the project.  

Selby Stories is the cultural programme for the Selby High Street Heritage Action Zone – one of more than 60 high streets in the country to receive a share of funding from Historic England, along with funding from Selby District Council.

Serena has a wealth of experience as a textile artist and artist in residence and specialises in creating tiny handcrafted accessories inspired by histories and storytelling. She has previously undertaken a number of residencies throughout Yorkshire, the UK and Internationally. These include with The Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate, the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection in Lancashire and the Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, Canada.  

One of her previous projects with the Yorkshire Brontë Parsonage Museum was inspired by the Brontë’s stories, biographies and personal possessions. Serena created tiny hand stitched accessories, including gloves, shoes and handkerchiefs - imagined relics from moments in Charlotte Brontë’s life. 

Serena commented: 

The residency is a brilliant opportunity for me to step outside of the traditional 'white gallery space' and work within an unusual and historical context, which is hugely exciting and a great honour. As a maker of small-scale artworks, I’m trying not to be daunted by the enormous size and gravitas of Selby Abbey. Instead, I am very much looking forward to sharing and learning from the Selby community. These sessions will inform the artwork and hopefully bring a slightly different perspective and new experience to the Abbey’s many visitors.” 

Grace Chapman, Community Engagement Coordinator at Selby Abbey, commented:   

“We are thrilled to host Serena and to see what she creates as part of her residency. One of the most exciting things about a project like this is that you never know what will be created. We love the work that Serena has created in her previous residences and we can’t wait to see the unique work she creates for us and to share this with the many people who love the Abbey.” 

The activities are part of Selby Stories, cultural events celebrating Selby and what makes it unique, encouraging both locals and visitors to engage with the town centre in new and exciting ways. The programme runs to December 2023.   

The funding for the cultural programme from Historic England and Selby District Council aims to help revive and inspire engagement with high street. The project is being delivered by a partnership of local community and cultural organisations, led by Selby Abbey

Jane Jackson from Historic England added: “We are delighted to be supporting Selby Stories through the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme. This project is an exciting opportunity for people of all ages to celebrate Selby’s history and contribute their own stories about the town.”    

Selby District Council’s Lead Executive Member for Health and Culture, Councillor Tim Grogan, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Selby, building on what we did for the Selby950 celebrations. Selby Stories will showcase the history and culture of Selby and provide exciting new activities and events, encouraging residents and visitors to the town. I encourage all residents and visitors to get involved and share their inspiring stories.” 

The new Explore Heart of Yorkshire website is hosting the events programme for Selby Stories