The Hybrid lace exhibition in Limerick displayed a pleasing combination of traditional antique and contemporary lace, as well as drawings of lace, experimental work and a video showing the process of making machine lace. Some of the most beautiful designs (see above) came from the archive and were the work of Cecilia Keyes from Kinsale, who studied lace design at the South Kensington School of Art and won many prizes for her lovely work.
The image above shows how the traditional and modern were brought together in one part of the gallery. On the far wall is my triptych ‘Dust, decay and disintegration’ a combination of linen bobbin lace and silk paper, which is complemented by Gail Baxter’s stunning black and red, bobbin lace hangings entitled ‘Tracing the thread III’ on the left. In the centre is ‘THX.OBJ’ a robe of plastic lace by Nora O’Murchu and Hua Shu, and in the background Ruth Duignan’s two ‘Simple stitch’ blouses, one in red the other white, fabricated from tulle embroidered with a simple running stitch in a variety of threads inspired by native hedgerows, rushes and reeds. Traditional work was shown in the glass cases and modern lace drawings were displayed along the wall.
Much of the contemporary work used unusual materials to construct lace. For example, Dawn Cole’s print entitled ‘Wound in back and bullet came out in front’ (above) uses text from the diary of the World War I nurse Clarice Spratling to create images that resemble fine lace. Jane Murtagh’s etched and patinated copper entitled ‘The Lace maker’s garden’ is based on thoughts of a winter garden and the work Florence Vere O’Brien undertook to revitalise the Limerick lace industry at the end of the nineteenth century.
Neither Roisin de Buitlear nor Michael Canning are lacemakers but both have referenced lace in their work. Roisin with her beautiful lace etched on hand-blown glass and Michael with his diptychs inspired by Limerick lace, memory and loss, rendered in oil, wax, ash, and soot on linen. In contrast, Fiona Harrington and I are lacemakers and use traditional techniques in a modern way. Fiona with her pictorial pieces, such as ‘The chicken’ and ‘The lighthouse’ that combine Kenmare needle lace and Carrickmacross lace. And me with my three hangings entitled ‘Memories are made of this’ (above) which uses bobbin lace, made from string, and silk paper to depict the disintegration of memory with Alzheimer’s disease. It was good to see that the students from the Limerick School of Art are also being encouraged to use lace techniques in novel ways and interesting to see some of their experimental pieces and designs as part of the exhibition.