Wednesday 28 March 2018

Special Nottingham lace curtain parcels

After all the excitement of conferences and exhibitions I’m back doing some curtain research this week. In particular I’ve been looking at a catalogue from the Peach company of Nottingham for 1904. Peach sold lace, curtains, linens and hosiery but I’ve been studying their special lace curtain parcels. These were assembled and sold for specific types of houses. The cheapest at 12/6 is the Triumph parcel which ‘is recommended where large size curtains are not required’ and boasts of their hard-wearing qualities. However, although aimed at the less well-off home, it contains one pair of curtains for a dining room, a sitting room, and a bedroom as well as one lace guipure sideboard cover and two fancy lace mats. There are also country house parcels, a frilled curtain parcel, a wedding present parcel and at £5 10/- a mansion parcel! The latter includes two pairs of curtains for the drawing room and two for the dining room. One pair for the breakfast room and four pairs for bedrooms. Also for the bedroom are a lace bedspread, a table centre, and six dressing table mats, while for the living rooms there are two antimacassars, a table cover and a sideboard cover. These are all described as ‘exquisite designs and the curtains are the best machinery can produce’ – however they may not be so hard-wearing!

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Lace Unveiled at Newstead Abbey, Nottingham

This exhibition of contemporary art presented throughout the Abbey was part of the Lace Unravelled programme. It included two new works by Shane Waltener. A canopy of threads woven between a row of yew trees alongside the medieval fishpond, which framed the view along the walk and invited contemplation (see pic below); and a tangled web of threads across the centre of a four poster bed in the house, reminiscent of fairy tales and mysteries.
Another interesting work was ‘Boom’ by Joy Buttress and Manolis Papastavrou which visually expressed the rise and fall of the lace factories in Nottingham, based on information from Sheila Mason’s book. It includes a drawing of part of a lace parasol cover and a film of it being made (see pic at top). Lucy Brown’s ‘The secrets we keep from ourselves’, an installation of deconstructed second hand clothes and lace, filled Lord Byron’s dressing room and explored her interest in the revealing and concealing qualities of lace. In another bedroom, Joana Vasconcelos used crochet lace to challenge ideas about femininity, tradition and modernity, by using this ‘feminine’ product to mummify two ferocious ceramic wolves. It was interesting to see lace inspiring such different projects and also to see the works exhibited in the house rather than in a white cube space.

Friday 16 March 2018

Lace Unravelled at Newstead Abbey

The theme of the second day of the Lace Unravelled symposium was ‘creative lace’. Wollfgang Buttress opened the day with a fascinating talk about expressing the ephemeral through light and architecture, in particular the ideas behind his Hive structure which is now at Kew Gardens. Sara Robertson and Sarah Taylor then told us about their collaboration with MYB Textiles and Mike Stoane Lighting to produce light emitting lace, some of which is on display in Lace Unarchived at Bonington Gallery. Sylvie Marot then discussed her forthcoming exhibition at the Calais Lace Museum entitled ‘Haute dentelle’ combining couture fashion and lace. During the lunch break we had the opportunity to see the artworks displayed throughout the house as part of the Public programme (more of that in another blog). After lunch, Cecilia Heffer described her research exploring ephemeral material processes in a contemporary lace practice. She considers the making of textile as a contemporary response to the transient nature of place. Shane Waltener, who had constructed two installations at Newstead – one in the Abbey grounds and the other in a bedroom - talked about his site specific work. The day was summarised by Janis Jefferies who reflected on the themes of the symposium and facilitated a final discussion. It was a fascinating day celebrating the ephemerality of lace and the continuing relevance of lace in practice today.

Thursday 15 March 2018

Lace unravelled at Wollaton Hall

Lace unravelled is a series of events in Nottingham celebrating the history and contemporary uses of lace. I’ve previously blogged about the Lace unarchived exhibition at Bonington Gallery which runs until the end of the month (see blog of 1 March). The day at Wollaton Hall was the first day of the symposium and is also the venue for my contemporary response to the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel. The day started with a keynote talk by Sheila Mason about the history of the machine lace industry, followed by Ann Inscker and Judith Edgar discussing the mentoring sessions they have been running during which they have discovered some interesting lace history hidden within the Nottingham lace collection. Dr Amanda Briggs-Goode then spoke about the importance of the Lace Archive at Nottingham Trent University and it’s use within the School of Art and Design.

All the delegates were then taken to the Prospect Room to see my new lace panels and a facsimile of the original Battle of Britain lace panel. I talked about the genesis and production of the original panel and then discussed how I had designed and produced my own panels. After that we had a tour of the Nottingham Industrial Museum and were shown a working Leavers lace machine.

After lunch, Anne-Claire Laronde and Sophie Henwood talked about the lace held in the Calais Lace Museum and the uses of lace in contemporary fashion. They were followed by Professor David Hopkin discussing the use of lace tells (songs which the lacemakers sang as they worked) and the often dark stories they revealed. Lindsey Bristow, finished the day with a talk about the manufacture of plain net or bobbinet and its varied uses today such as conductive lace and in parachutes. I’m looking forward to another interesting day of talks tomorrow.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Battle of Britain lace panels completed

I’ve finished my new Battle of Britain lace panels and they’ve been sent off for their first exhibition at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham. The image shows a detail of the central panel. They’ll be exhibited there as part of the Lace Unravelled event taking place throughout Nottingham over several days at the end of next week. I’ve been working on them for so long it seems strange to have finished them and no longer having them in the studio. Packing them up and sending them off seemed a bit like sending a child off to school for its first day – you hope all will go well but you are no longer in control and they have to make their own way! They will be exhibited at Wollaton from 10 to 18 March and I’ll be giving a talk about the whole project as part of the Lace Unravelled symposium on 15 March at Wollaton. After that they will be back home again until their next outing at Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire between 7 July and 4 November, and then to Bentley Priory, London, from 17 November to 30 March 2019. I’m looking forward to seeing them displayed in the lovely Prospect Room at Wollaton Hall as they are quite large and it will be good to see the three of them all together with some space around them rather than squashed up in the studio.

Thursday 1 March 2018

Lace unarchived exhibition at Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham

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.