Svg patterns

The sixth segment of Formations, our year-long programme delivered in partnership with Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Postcolonial Studies Centre, includes events in July & August under the thematic banner – Formation: Lace.

Lace is a prominent part of Nottingham’s industrial and cultural heritage, but its history is a global one, and its popularity in the UK in the nineteenth century was connected with its relative affordability since the cotton used to produce it was imported from slave plantations in the Caribbean and the American South. This segment draws attention to moments and materials in the histories of lace-making in Nottingham and in Cyprus, and invites participation in creative writing and Empowerment doll-making workshops, in a series of creative and conversation events focused on lace and other textiles.

Creative Writing Workshop with Angela Costi and Eve Makis: Writing as Embroidery

Wednesday 21 July 2021 6.30 pm – 8 pm.

In this writing workshop, Angela Costi will thread the story of her Cypriot grandmother’s lace and embroidery making, called Lefkarathika, which imbues her poetry making. Through visual poems, photos and a display of the actual embroidery itself, you are invited to make word sequences, patterns and designs, stitch by stitch across the page. The kinaesthetic skills of creating ‘fairy windows’ with thread and linen are reimagined through a writing exercise – what do you see? Write it down before it disappears. In this way, we are honouring this traditional craft making that will not be with us for much longer.

Participants wishing to purchase or access a copy of Angela’s poetry book and creative documentation, as reference for the workshop, can do so on the following link, An Embroidery of Old Maps and New (Spinifex, 2021).

All levels welcome.

Click here to watch via our YouTube

Empowerment Doll-making workshop with artist Rita Kappia

Saturday 24 July 2021 10.30 am – 12:00 pm

In this workshop, you can make your own Empowerment Doll using a range of common materials. Advance registration is required and a free package of the materials you will need to make your doll will be sent to you. The workshop is open to all, and may be of particular interest to young people age 8-12, families, younger children supported by an adult, or adults and older children with an interest in dollmaking, textiles, fabrics, lace, or art. The session will be delivered live by Zoom and you will be supported by Rita to create your own doll.

Open to all but limited to 20 participants (advance registration). Aimed at young people age 8-12 and to families but all participants welcome to register.

Rita Kappia is an artist dollmaker from Nottingham. Rita Kappia’s Empowerment Dolls have become synonymous with exploring artistic expression and self-identity – an exploration of one’s sense-of-self. Her collectables have served as a reminder and representation of new empowering thoughts, feelings and expressions to explore and cultivate.

YouTube launch: Empowerment Doll making with artist Rita Kappia

Wednesday 18 August 2021, 5 pm – 6 pm

Following her Zoom workshop in July, we are delighted to launch a video where Rita Kappia will introduce her Empowerment Doll project and provide instruction to create your own doll.

We join her in her workshop to hear about the significance of the art of doll making, what she hopes to achieve with her work, and the importance of making and owning a doll for people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities.

Rita Kappia is an artist dollmaker from Derby. Rita Kappia’s Empowerment Dolls have become synonymous with exploring artistic expression and self-identity – an exploration of one’s sense-of-self. Her collectables have served as a reminder and representation of new empowering thoughts, feelings and expressions to explore and cultivate.

Tune into the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel from 5pm on Wednesday 18 August to watch the video and follow Rita’s tutorial.

Lace: Global Material Encounters: With Amanda Briggs-Goode, Alessandra Vichi, Sotiria Kogou, Steven King and Ruth Mather.

Thursday 5 August 2021, 6 – 7 pm

Lace, a fabric composed of thread surrounding holes, it is simultaneously both ubiquitous and symbolically ritualised.  Its visual and tactile delights dominate our perceptions of this beautiful and complex fabric. Researchers at Nottingham Trent University have been considering ways to look beneath the surface and the connotations of lace to reveal new perspectives on this unique fabric.  This event will present two ongoing projects which are interrogating lace to reveal new stories to enrich our understanding of its relationship with global trade and networks.

The first project is focused on samples of coloured lace found in the archive at NTU, which by using both established and novel scientific methods is aimed at discovering the composition of both the dyes used and the yarn types found in Nottingham lace in the late 19th and early 20th century.  The aim being to identify the origins of the raw materials and place this evocative fabric into the matrix of the supply chain of this period.

The second project aims are to tell the story of lace from raw materials to disposal, reuse, or archiving, focusing upon the mechanisation of lacemaking which enabled the use of cotton thread, setting the city on course to become the centre of an international network through which raw materials, design ideas, technological advances, and finished goods were exchanged. Nottingham was thus connected to the cotton plantations of the US South, upon which Britain remained heavily reliant for raw cotton throughout the nineteenth century, but it also relied heavily on US and colonial connections for the export of finished lace. This talk highlights some of the questions raised in this project about the meanings of lace at these various points in its lifecycle, and the ways in which it could express, resist, or reinforce different aspects of the identities of those who worked with or used it.

The coronavirus pandemic is still far from over in many parts of the world, including Guatemala where artisanal textile making remains a significant aspect of indigenous Maya cultural heritage and the creative economy. This small collection of artefacts, images and narratives convey findings from recent research into: ‘how Guatemalan artisans diversified their textile practices to sustain their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic’. 

Our ethnographic enquiry, undertaken in 2021, was made possible through collaboration with five socially driven textile organisations working in the Lake Atitlan area; A Rum Fellow, Cojolya, Mercado Global, Multicolores, and Kakaw Designs. Analysis of online interviews, videos and photographs taken in the field, provide insights into the creative resilience of artisans as they continued to practice, communicate and market their crafts, throughout the global crisis.

The title Story Cloth derives from Multicolores, who encouraged the artists they work with to embroider ‘my life during the quarantine’, as a reflection on the personal impact of the pandemic. Examples of these embroidered vignettes are featured alongside dolls, woven and dyed (buy-one-give-one) PPE masks, fashion and interior textiles, and rugs made from recycled paca (second-hand clothing).

The exhibition also features ‘Connecting with Your Roots’, a scholarship programme funded by Ibermuseums for The Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Textiles and Clothing, enabling 30 women and girls from Maya groups in Guatemala City to reconnect with their weaving arts heritage. The project is represented in images and a vintage huipil (blouse) the most prevalent form of traje (traditional clothing) worn by Mayan women. Woven on a backstrap loom, the huipil incorporates colours, patterns and motifs symbolizing nature, religious and community affiliation.

Story Cloth is an outcome of ongoing research into the sustainable potential for integrating digital technology into artisanal business models, supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and Quality-Related (QR) funding, Nottingham Trent University.

Header photo: Maria Sacalxot Coti rug hooking. Photo by Joe Coca courtesy of Multicores

Curated by:

Katherine Townsend, Nottingham Trent University
Anna Piper, Sheffield Hallam University
Luciana Jabur, Friends of The Ixchel Museum

Supported by:

Friends of the Ixchel Museum
Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena (Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Dress)
A Rum Fellow
Kakaw Designs
Mercado Global