Thursday, 29 November 2012


This exhibition of contemporary art developed from lace at Nottingham Castle showed work by Lucy Brown, Joy Buttress, Nicola Donovan, Cal Lane, Teresa Whitfield and Timorous Beasties. It is part of the Lace:Here:Now project celebrating the Nottingham lace industry and showing how lace has inspired these contemporary artists.

In ‘Worn’ (above), Joy Buttress had embellished vintage undergarments to explore the disparity between women’s class status and wealth, using motifs from the Nottingham lace archive. She is interested in ‘the capacity of lace to be both beautiful and repulsive, particularly when it becomes stained, brittle and discoloured with age’. I liked the way the embroidery marked the cloth and was hidden within its folds. Suspending and lighting the work exposed its lantern-like beauty but also revealed stains which could not otherwise have been seen.

Nicola Donovan showed ‘Still’ (above) an installation in which lace machine carriages and bobbins were suspended by threads across a corner of the room forming a lace-like pattern in their immobility. I also liked her ‘Bloom’ interventions in which circular pieces of lace were stuck to small areas of the wall suggesting the appearance of mould. Timorous Beasties exhibited a black net curtain hanging from the ceiling to floor down the atrium of the stairwell, which looked effective with a strong shadow behind it. It was shown next to a drawing of antique lace by Teresa Whitfield produced as a collaborative project with 20 volunteers in Brighton. Cal Lane showed some of her cut iron lace spades and covers and Lucy Brown exhibited an installation of deconstructed lace garments. As well as the contemporary work, several pages of lace samples from the archive held by the Castle were on display. I was also interested to see the Battle of Britain lace panel produced between 1943 and 1946. In conclusion, there is plenty to see in this exhibition, both traditional lace and contemporary textiles, and it is good to see lace being used as the inspiration for contemporary work.

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