I’m in the middle of the final preparations for the Knitting and Stitching Show next week. Gail Baxter and I have an exhibition entitled ‘Lace at the edge’ in gallery TG21 at Alexandra Palace next week and it will then move on to Harrogate in November. The work will be packed up after the London show, stored, and then transported to Harrogate for us, which is very convenient, but does mean we have to pack our work securely but in a way that won’t crease it while it’s in storage for 6 weeks. I’m buying masses of tissue paper and bubble wrap and hoping that will do the trick. I’m sure it’s stored very carefully, but you also have to take into account that the boxes might be kept upside down or on their side, and pack accordingly! Luckily the hanging system for my veils isn’t very complicated; all that’s required are pins and a hammer, so I don’t need many tools, although I am taking things like scissors, sellotape, and white blu tack just in case I need them. We have ordered labels, an information board and a board with our names on in advance so they should be waiting for us and I have my nice new business cards! Do come and see us and say hello if you’re going to the Show it’s on from Wednesday 5 October to Sunday 9 October.
Thursday, 22 September 2016
I’ve just had another batch of business cards printed so I have enough for the Knitting and Stitching Show galleries at Alexandra Palace and Harrogate this autumn. It’s always difficult to decide on one design that represents the entirety of your work. I want to convey the idea that my work is based on lace but might include other fabrics and embroidery and is conceptual in nature, so I don’t want anything too specific. I think going for a close up image works well as it isn’t really linked to any particular body of work. My previous card had a frill and some tambour lace from my lace curtain work, so it incorporated the curtain, lace and text in a fairly unspecific way. This time I’ve gone for another nonspecific image. This one is taken from one of the veils in my latest body of work, showing fine netting, pins and the edge of the veil. I hope it conveys the idea of lace and beauty, but that the juxtaposition of net and pins adds a layer of uncertainty and subversiveness - beauty with a hint of menace!
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
I was honoured to be invited by Maria Bissacco to take part in the recent exhibition at The Lace School in Valtopina entitled ‘Interpretare il segno’. Maria sent each of the participants a series of drawings of stylised flowers and asked them to interpret the drawings as they liked. As I have previously designed and made some unusual lace doilies I decided that I would make another non-functional lace mat. I selected one of the flower shapes and expanded it to a diameter of about 25 cm, then widened the petals so that they touched one another and formed a unified mat-like shape. I wanted to acknowledge the floral origin of the doily without it looking exactly like a flower so I added chains of lace and fringes at certain points around the edge of the design, which also held it together more effectively. I worked the piece as a continuous tape lace, following the curves of the petals, and joining the sections as I worked around the design. Once I’d finished the main outline I added fillings to the shapes by working a continuous two-paired plait across each petal. I had to work out the path of my threads before I started and make sewings and crossings as I needed them, but mostly I managed to fill the entire space with just two pairs. As I made some of the crossings I also inserted some small strips of iridescent fabric to add a third dimension and give the suggestion of butterflies resting on the flower. They also subverted the idea of a traditional lace mat by making it completely non-functional.
Friday, 9 September 2016
I was interested to see this ‘Stevengraph’ at Macclesfield Silk Museum as it reminded me of the commemorative lace panels I’ve been looking at recently. Both the lace panels and these silk panels were used to commemorate and advertise events. According to the information at Macclesfield, Thomas Stevens of Coventry began making woven bookmarks in the 1860s. They proved so popular that in 1879 he started producing silk pictures as well. The one in the image shows the venue of an exhibition held in Chicago in 1893 and appears to have been woven during the exhibition presumably as a souvenir for the audience to purchase. During a recent visit to the Newstead Abbey lace collection I saw a larger panel celebrating the 1862 International Exhibition held in London. That one, about 60 x 40 cm in size, could have been available to purchase or, more likely, was used as advertising on a lace manufacturer’s stand to show the skill and versatility of the lace machines. The patterns on both the silk and lace panels would have been produced using Jacquard cards.
Friday, 2 September 2016
The lace I have just finished is inspired by another nineteenth century gothic novel – this time Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I designed the lace to incorporate ‘fangs’ and the suggestion of insect mouth parts between them to emphasise the idea of biting. The red glass beads hanging from the fangs represent drops of blood. It was quite difficult to find the right shape and colour of bead but I think these lovely ruby red Czech beads have the right mix of beauty and menace. I decided to make the veil black to reference Victorian mourning veils and the glass beads also suggest the Whitby jet beads that were often used in mourning jewellery. Whitby is also the place where Dracula disembarks in England and is the scene of some of the important episodes in the story so a reference to Whitby seemed appropriate. This veil, with the others in the series, will be exhibited at the gallery at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace that I’m sharing with Gail Baxter from 5 to 9 October.
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Another lace veil inspired by a nineteenth century author; this time Charlotte Bronte. Again I've used embellished machine lace for this one. Charlotte married her father’s curate late in life, but before that had an intense crush on Constantin Heger, a schoolmaster in Brussels, where she went to study for a while. She wrote to him obsessively when she returned to England, much to his embarrassment, and the displeasure of his wife, and he eventually asked her to stop writing to him. Interestingly, although he tore up Charlotte’s letters, his wife retrieved them, sewed the pieces together and kept them. This veil references that episode and those letters by incorporating torn sections of a letter on to the lace of the wedding veil and joining them in a line of stitching that suggests the life line or story line of the writer. You can see why I’ve called this one ‘Fragmented memories’.
Thursday, 18 August 2016
The inspiration for this lace veil came from another nineteenth century novel - Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy. In this pieces I’m referencing the episode in the story where Tess writes a note to Angel Clare before she marries him telling him about her past, in case he wants to change his mind. It is only after they are married that she realises he did not find the note, and once she tells him about her past he rejects her. In the veil, the disintegrating paper represents the hidden note as well as the hidden secrets and shows how vulnerable and fragile marriage can be. Although the veil is beautiful, it hides within it the essence of decay and vulnerability, and of course veils themselves serve to mask and hide the emotions. I’ve called it ‘Paper trail’ as the confusion over that little slip of paper leads to the path that the rest of the story follows, ultimately ending with Tess’s trial.