Lace Works; Contemporary Art & Nottingham Lace

Evolved from a series of discussions between Nottingham Trent University’s School of Art & Design and Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Lace:Here:Now is a season of exhibitions which have been taking place at key venues in and around Nottingham from September 2012 and runs until February 2013.

We had the pleasure of visiting the Lace Works exhibition currently held within  Nottingham Castle. An exhibition of contemporary art and Nottingham lace; a collection by six artists all inspired by lace which includes existing pieces and also new exhibits made especially for the exhibition

Many of the samples on display were donated to the Castle Museum & Art Gallery in 1878, by the Nottingham Chamber of Commerce and so form part of the Museums founding collection. They include a comprehensive selection of many of the known  surviving examples of early machine lace which inspired artists Lucy Brown and Theresa Whitfield.

Lace Works also includes four pieces by USA based sculptor Cal Lane  which includes reclaimed steel shovels, a set of steel ‘doilies’. an  I-beam, cut through with lace inspired patterns and a Rust Print, made from one of the doilies which was laid on canvas and left out in damp conditions until a rust impression of the pattern was left behind.

Three pieces of work for the exhibition are provided by Nicola Donovan, which have resulted from her PhD research in to the history of Nottingham Lace. Lacework (2011), which also inspired the title for the exhibition (an audio recording of one of the last Nottingham Leavers lace machines at work) Still (2012) A piece made from thread and lace machine parts  and Bloom (2012) inspired by a gift bag of of lace scraps and floral motifs, and by her observations of mould in damp interiors.  As you walk round the gallery you will see the pieces grafted to the walls in corners and nooks.

Devil Damask is designed by Timourous Beasties who are noted for surreal and provocative textiles, Devil Damask follows in the same spirit with unexpected images woven in to lace which has been produced on a Nottingham Lace machine.

The striking work of Joy Buttress grabs you as soon as you enter the exhibition. A selection of French peasants’ under garments are suspended high up ‘charged with the memories and traces of the women that wore them’. The idea is that it is difficult to see the details so the viewer is ‘challenged to search for unseen and concealed interventions on the inner surface of the garments, suggesting intimacy, secrecy and suppression.’

Nottingham has long held a connection with the Lace trade being at the centre of the world’s lace industry during the British Empire  but ‘Lace Works’ which is part of Lace:Here:Now, a season of exhibitions and events to celebrate the heritage of Nottingham lace, acts as a catalyst for new exciting ideas. The exhibition challenges the traditional definitions of lace proving that there is more to lace than your grandmas net curtains along with the idea that lace can still provoke and inspire in the modern day.

Normal admission to Nottingham Castle applies.

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