Saturday, January 07, 2012

Lost in Lace– Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

I spent the day visiting this way back in November – so another very late blog post.  It is a marvellous bit of luck that this exhibition is on (it runs until 19th February) just as I am starting module 5 which is all about  lace and transparency .  One of the features I really appreciated about this exhibition is that each artist has supplied a small handling sample with a brief note on materials, and the accompanying book includes exchanges of emails between the curator and the artists, which gives a real insight into the technical challenges of mounting the exhibition.   Here are a few of my personal highlights, but there is much more – I have included links to images on the artists’ pages.

 Piper Shepard  Lacing Space – a remarkable piece of work hanging from floor to ceiling between  pillars, inspired by a piece of point de gaze lace in BMAG’s collection. the holes have been hand cut from the cloth.  The edges have been shaped around the pillars so that if it is shown elsewhere, they will appear as negative spaces. I was awed by the sheer amount of work as well as the beauty of this piece.

Liz Nilsson The Latticed Eye of Memory – a group of rectangular panels cut with a regular grid of circular holes hanging in layers, appearing to float.  The grids and shadows line up in different patterns as you walk around; the central layer is more colourful and can only be partially glimpsed.

Suzumi Noda Juxtaposition – constructed from jacquard punch cards, lacquered and knitted together.  these cards were used to control looms to weave cloth in a given pattern, and as such were the forerunners of computer programs. It all comes down to ones and zeroes, holes and solid areas, on and off.   Standing next to this piece, I had the odd feeling that it was trying to tell me something and I wanted to be able to read the code.  This is another piece that casts interesting shadows, this time across the floor as the daylight changes.

Lost in Lace Birmingham Museum (5)

Tamar Frank A thin line between space and matter.  A deceptively simple concept, a 3d mathematical drawing in threads which is stunning on a large scale (do you remember drawings curves in school maths lessons by joining grid points with straight lines like this?
Curve drawing
it is the same idea).  You walk into a small room lit from below by coloured LEDs then as the light fades, the phospherescent threads glow and the effect is  disconcerting, like falling into a tunnel.

Visiting the exhibition prompted me to look up other ways in which lace is being more generally used in design, contrasting the softness and delicacy of lace with hard materials .  Dutch design house Demakersvan  make lace industrial fencing and Cal Lane cuts into, among other things, steel beams.  Architects are also making use of lace-like facings such as the recent John Lewis shop in Leicester and the new central library in Birmingham (under construction).


Heather said...

I love Cal Lane's work, particularly the cut oil drums.

Fibrenell said...

Sounds like a great exhibition. Is there a catalogue available, Jane?

Max the Lobster said...

this looks like a great exhibition, still thinking about going! I always think Piper Shepherds work is amazing and all hand cut I think. Happy lacemaking!

ferinn said...

What a brilliant idea to construct a lace fence,utilitarian can be beautiful too!
The oil spill is great too.

scott davidson said...

How about this for a design for a wall painting, in the tried-and-true Art Nouveau style?:, by the famous English artist, Audrey Beardsley himself. You can also order a canvas print of the picture from