I spent a very interesting day at the Victoria and Albert Museum yesterday searching through old issues of the Furniture Gazette to find out about the state of lace manufacturing in the UK in the 1870s. These journals are a fascinating resource aimed at those in the trade, rather than consumers, and they give a frank view of the business world. However they also include news items, obituaries, trade relations, articles about current styles, as well as thoughts about design and manufacturing. For example a few of the things I read about were disputes in the lace trade, a patent for a device that traps muslin fabric between two glass window panes, a description of how the jacquard patterning system works, and a review of the lace at the 1874 international exhibition by Mrs Bury Palliser. I was also pleased to find some designs for window drapery including fine lace curtains and some tips on curtain design by those well know gurus of the day the Misses Rhoda and Agnes Garrett.
Friday, 20 January 2017
I’ve spent the last few days in Nottingham first attending a symposium about lace and lace related topics and then doing some more research towards my response to the Battle of Britain lace panel. At the symposium I gave a paper about the approach I’m taking to the commission and how other artists have produced textile responses to war archives and themes of conflict. There were many other interesting papers, in particular, David Hopkin talking about research into lace ‘tells’, Gail Baxter discussing her research into lace business records, Matthew Potter talking about the Limerick lace industry and Amanda Briggs Goode discussing early artschool training for lace designers. The research towards the Battle of Britain panel involved sourcing some of the original photographs from which the original panel was designed. So all in all an excellent few days, meeting new lace contacts and catching up with old ones and doing some research.
Thursday, 12 January 2017
Walking the dog in the winter I always enjoy looking at the trees and the lace-like images made by the leafless branches. They remind me of Japanese paintings and it was the combination of Japanese art and the silhouettes of winter trees that inspired me to make this hanging of a fan. I used a Bedfordshire style of lace, which, with its plaits and leaves provides a good representation of winter twigs. I felt the combination of black threads and red background gave an oriental air to the piece and I also added some gold beads to give some highlights and a golden full moon to add to the Japanese effect.
Friday, 6 January 2017
My exciting new project for the coming year involves the Battle of Britain lace panel – the image just shows a detail. I’ve been commissioned to produce a contemporary textile response to the panel and its associated archive and I’m very grateful to the Textile Society for giving me a professional development award to help me fund the project and Nottingham Trent University for giving me a residency. The Battle of Britain panel was manufactured by Dobsons and Browne of Nottingham in 1942-6. It is 5 yards long and 65 inches wide and celebrates the bravery of the aircrew who fought the Battle of Britain in 1940, as well as the resilience of the people of London who were besieged nightly by the German Luftwaffe. It depicts the insignia of the Allied Air Forces that played a role in the battle, as well as scenes of the bombing of London. It was produced as a limited edition, and panels were presented to the air forces involved and to dignitaries of the day, including Winston Churchill. Today the panels are displayed in Air Force Museums, cathedrals, textile museums and other places worldwide. Once the panels had been produced, the original designs and associated jacquard cards were destroyed to ensure that it remained a limited edition. However, later in life, the designer, Harry Cross, painted the scenes in the panel, and these and other archival material have recently been loaned to the Lace Archive, at Nottingham Trent University. It is this archive that has been the impetus for the new project. My first research visit is planned for mid January so watch this space to see how the project progresses.