Thursday, 30 January 2014

Lace here now

This gem of a book, edited by Amanda Briggs-Goode and Deborah Dean, is packed with information. Like the lace event of the same name that took place in Nottingham in 2012/13 this book has something for everyone. For the historian, Sheila Mason has written about the history of the Nottingham machine-made lace industry and Deborah Tyler-Bennett has composed a hommage to machine lace workers. Joy Buttress and Matt Gill have produced an evocative pictorial essay about Nottingham lace. For the lace researcher, the lace collections at Nottingham City Museum and the Nottingham Trent University (NTU) archive are described by Judith Edgar and Amanda Briggs-Goode, respectively. Contemporary lace is also covered. Deborah Dean discusses the exhibition ‘Lace works: contemporary art and Nottingham lace’ which she curated at Nottingham Castle and Amanda Briggs-Goode describes the ‘Journeys in lace’ project in which students and staff at NTU used the archive as inspiration for contemporary work. The book ends with three case studies discussing the work of Timorous Beasties, Cecilia Heffer and Teresa Whitfield. As I said, something for everyone, a good read and lots of illustrations too.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Shape shifting

Shape shifting is the title of the exhibition by the Westhope Group currently showing at the Lace Guild Headquarters. The theme is interpreted in several ways from biological metamorphosis in the case of Anne Dyer to ghostly shape shifting in the work of Ann Wheeler. Gil Dye takes another approach and uses seven 17th century motifs from Richard Shorelyker’s ‘Schole-house for the needle’ published in London in 1632 to illustrate seven linear patterns. Both bobbin and needle lace are well represented, depending on the lacemaker’s expertise, and it’s also good to see contemporary tambour lace in Robina Melville’s work. My favourite piece is Ann Allison’s hanging of asymmetric circles, which also features on the poster, part of which can be seen in the picture above.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Free essence 32

I saw this sculpture by Ikuta Niyoko in Bristol Museum. I like the way it refracts light and references emptiness but is in fact solid. It is part of a series in which the artist cuts thin sheets of glass then attaches them to each other with an adhesive that becomes transparent as it hardens. It also reminded me of the work of Emma Rawson who captures images of lace into layers of glass although her work speaks more of layered landscapes than the wave shape evoked here.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Fashioning the archive

This was the second part of the Pasold conference organised by Goldsmiths; the first took place in November (see my blog about it then). Once again there was an interesting mix of papers. The day began with Patrik Steorn discussing Swedish fashion in the USA. Debra Roberts then talked about her research into a piece of 18th century striped fabric with pattern pieces cut out of it and the detective route she followed to determine that it had been used to make a sacked back dress. Interestingly she noted that handling and manipulating the fabric allowed her to carry out her detective work, something that is not often allowed in museum archives. Kimberly Wahl discussed textiles linked to the British Suffrage movement. Caroline Hamilton gave a fascinating talk about the costumes of the Ballets Russes explaining how the collection had been disbanded and sold in the 1960s and 70s. She also told us how costumes are adapted and reused and followed the history of a hand-painted tunic originally worn in the 1910 production of The Firebird. Claire Suckall told us about her conceptual approach to costume design in which historical costumes are reimagined to distil their essence and thus create new costumes and choreography. I liked the phrase she used ‘holding the dance within itself’ to describe these costumes. Tincuta Heinzel and Dinah Eastop both talked about the practicalities of creating digital archives. Tincuta discussed Romanian textile archives and Dinah told us about polynomial texture mapping of the Board of Trade national archive which cleverly allows items to appear in 3D in the virtual index. Anna Brass, who has worked with Dinah, then presented a short film about the experience of working in the archive. The day ended with Ruby Hoette and Jenny Doussan discussing fashion archives.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Follow me

‘Follow me’ is an interactive sculpture by Jeppe Hein in the form of a mirrored labyrinth. It is made of polished steel and is quite confusing to walk through – the bench you can see is actually behind you not at the centre of the installation as it appears in the picture. ‘Follow me’ is in the Royal Fort Gardens at Bristol University and was commissioned for the University’s centenary in 2009. The gardens are lovely too, designed by Humphry Repton, they form a peaceful oasis in the centre of Bristol.