This exhibition celebrates the heritage of the Lace Archive at Nottingham Trent University as well as recent collaborations between archives and commercial lace manufacturers. As you enter the gallery the pieces that dominate the view are some beautiful lengths of black lace from the manufacturers Sophie Hallette, Timorous Beasties and Cluny Lace as well as some lace dresses by Oasis made from fabric inspired by lace in the NTU Lace Archive (see the pic above). The stunning shadows produced by those fabrics on the wall are complemented by ethereal images from Sophie Hallette’s video installation ‘Silhouette en dentelle’, a series of net jackets and lace produced in collaboration with Mal Burkinshaw.
Collaboration is a feature of the exhibition, with lace garments from Hobbs and Burberry, made in association with MYB Textiles and Cluny Lace, respectively. MYB also worked with Sarah Taylor and Sara Robertson to produce some subtly glowing digital light-emitting lace. James Winnett’s collaboration is with lace draughtsmen of the past in his series of re-appropriated lace draughts, which he has embellished to enhance their imagery (see the pic above). Matt Woodham has collaborated with the NTU Lace Archive to produce a sculptural video, highlighting stories inspired by the artefacts.
As well as the contemporary lace and the works of art, several historical pieces have been selected from the Lace Archive to illustrate the development of machine lace production. The lace sample book illustrated above is part of a handling table for visitors to enjoy, but there are also samples of lace both handmade and machine made as well as lace draughts and designs by William Pegg and Charles Lawson, both former students of Nottingham Art School. Also on display are two sections of the Battle of Britain panel designed and painted by Harry Cross, another Art School pupil, as well as a digitally printed colour representation of it. If you want to see the actual lace panel, a full sized facsimile of it will be on display at Wollaton Hall, from 10 to 18 March, in conjunction with my contemporary response to it – yet another collaboration.
Lace unarchived runs at Bonnington until 29 March and is definitely worth a visit both to get a feel for the range of material held in the archive and to see how lace is being used today in fashion and art.