Sunday, June 24, 2012

Loving Love Lace

I've been to see the Love Lace exhibition at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum with some friends. We'd been planning this for ages, and finally managed to organise ourselves. It's wonderful. As knitters, my friends and I are attracted by lace. In my own case, I'm particularly attracted by its links to long-established craft traditions and by the use of motifs passed on from generation to generation of crafters.

This exhibition takes the idea of lace and plays with it. It looks forward, much more than it draws on past traditions. I like the way the curator describes the idea behind the display:
'Lace offers the mystery of concealment and the subtle interplay of space, light and shadows'.

Even though lace is usually associated with textiles, this exhibition broadened the definition to include
'any openwork structure whose pattern of spaces is as important as the solid areas’.
As result, the exhibition includes ceramics, glass, wood, found materials, video and images, paper, jewellery - all kinds of media in addition to the expected textiles.

Despite the diversity and innovation I was still most engaged by the fabrics in the exhibition. These are some of my favourites:

Below is a detail from a grouping of maybe a dozen ceiling to floor hangings in a mixture of tapa (bark) cloth, interlining, cotton gauze and thread. The artist, Andrea Eimke, who now lives in the Cook Islands but originally came from Germany, seems to me to combine successfully two very strong traditions of weaving, applique and stitching.

Love Lace - tapa

I found this work - a ghostly grouping of six dresses and bonnets - very moving. The Canadian artist, Noelle Hamlyn, calls it 'Ceremony' and it evokes for me the importance of rituals associated with birth and childhood. The work has been constructed from stitched and embroidered Japanese gampi tissue paper and so has an appropriate delicacy and transience.

Love Lace- dresses and hats

My favourite piece in the exhibition was a series of hanging panels of layered fabric with dyeing and stitching and patterning by Australian artist Janie Matthews. The gradations of colour and intricacy of the fabric design resulted in great richness. Meandering lines of stitching travelled across the panels, linking them. Most appropriately, its title was 'Memory Maps'.

Love lace - fabricLove Lace - fabric 2

There were some beautiful paper works. This laser-cut work from paper was by Tomy Ka Chun Leung, a student at UTS, the university where I work. These pieces are simultaneously simple in overall shape, but with a busy detailed pattern. This is a wonderful example of the 'interplay of space, light and shadows', as intended by the exhibition.

Love Lace - cut paper.

The exhibition and its works have a well-curated website if you're interested in seeing more of the works. Better still, visit if you can.


Lynne said...

It sounds very interesting. I have to take mum to Strathfield to catch a Countrylink train home on Thursday and since I'll be more than halfway to Sydney, maybe I will just keep travelling. Thanks for letting me know about it.

Rose Red said...

Looks fantastic Lyn. I must try to get to it before it closes (which I know isn't for a while yet!)

Brendaknits said...

Stunning pieces. Thanks for sharing your visit. I will look up the Canadian artist and see if she is presenting somewhere close to me. Thanks again.

1funkyknitwit said...

Not only was a GREAT day out but it was also a FANTASTIC exhibition. I had heard wonderful feedback on the lace exhibit and I was not let down at all! Like you I too loved the specific ones you chose. However there was so many wonderful pieces to be in awe of.
So worth it!