Monday 17 February 2020

Amy Atkin project - needle run lace

As you can see I’m getting on well with my Amy Atkin lace project. This is the first panel and I’ve almost completed it. The design is mine, based on motifs taken from Amy Atkin’s designs housed in the Collection of the Nottingham City Museums. I’m using needle run lace on machine made net. This is an old technique originally used in the nineteenth century before the invention of lace machines that could produce patterned lace. At that time all patterning had to be added to plain machine made net manually by young women called ‘lace runners’ using needles for embroidery, small hooks for fine chain stitching, or fine sewing for adding material in an applique technique. I’m using needle running in a more fluid modern way to outline my design and produce some areas of shading. Of course, Amy Atkin’s designs would have been produced on modern Levers lace machines that would have produced the net and pattern at the same time, but needle running is the closest I can get to a traditional lace technique working from my studio

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Amy Atkin lace designs

I’m making progress on my Amy Atkin lace project. The image shows my sketchbook and preliminary ideas for the finished lace. Amy Atkin attended Nottingham art School in the early 1900s and claimed to be the first female machine lace designer in Nottingham. Some of her designs and other items are held in the Collection of Nottingham City Museums, which is where I saw them. I decided against working her designs directly because they didn’t fit the short narrow format I’m using and also because I am working them in needle run lace on machine net rather than using a lace machine, which is what she designed them for. I’ve designed four panels using motifs from her designs and working in the same way as she did with a large motif at the base of the design and stylised flowers and foliage leading up from that. I’ve just finished the first panel and found the needle run lace worked well. It’s a technique I used on my response to the Battle of Britain lace panel and has relevance to the early machine lace trade, before the invention of the jacquard pattern system, when much decorated lace was made by using a needle and thread to add the pattern to plain net, so it seems relevant to the work of a machine lace designer.

Wednesday 5 February 2020

Surreal images and decadent decay at the V&A

I had an enjoyable day at the V&A recently admiring the surreal images of the photographer Tim Walker and the decadent decay of Darren Waterston’s ‘Filthy lucre’. Filthy lucre, part of which is shown in the image above, is a re-imagining of James Whistler’s Peacock Room, expressing the opulent extravagance of the original, which he decorated for the shipping magnate and porcelain collector, Frederick Leyland. However Leyland refused to pay for the work in full because the room was over-decorated, leading to a long dispute between them. In Waterston’s immersive installation gold drips from the painting, shelves break under the weight of fine china and shards of porcelain litter the floor all to the mournful accompaniment of a cello.
Tim Walker is a well known fashion photographer, but that description doesn’t do justice to his amazingly surreal imagination. I loved the images from his fashion shoots for Vogue and other magazines of oversized sets and imaginary worlds. His portraits also grasp the essence of the sitters; I especially liked his witch-like portrait of Margaret Atwood, as she did too, according to a recent interview.
As well as his older work, the exhibition also contained images from his recent encounter with the V&A collection. I particularly liked the images he produced from the conservation store using the storage covers for the historical costumes.