Svg patterns

Lucuna by artist Joy Buttress investigates the current interpretation of lace in contemporary visual culture. Lacuna explored the interface between skin and pattern which is created by lace fabric when worn on the body.

The work in this exhibition portrayed human skin through the use of leather and latex; embedding meaning and emotive boundaries through the application of decoration and pattern. Hand processes that include forms of stitch, and machine processes of laser etching and digital embroidery, were combined to create unfamiliar surfaces.

Joy’s research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Students from the Textiles, Fashion and Decorative Arts courses at Nottingham Trent University were inspired by its lace archive to produce drawings, textiles, products and investigations. Using the rich heritage of the archive to form the starting point, they explored the concept of lace, exploring materials and the use of heritage to inform design thinking for a new generation of designers.

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.

Join us on Saturday 17 March for a guided tour of Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Lace Archive. Please arrive at Bonington Gallery ten minutes prior to your tour departure time.

The archive is comprised of approximately 75,000 lace items, bequeathed to the University by local companies and the Nottingham Lace Federation. It includes single pieces of lace, manufacturers’ sample books, portfolios of photography and design, prize-winning examples from international lace competitions, as well as books on lace history and teaching aids used throughout the archive’s life.

As part of the tour, visitors will have special access to view:

The collection is considered to be of local, national and international importance and exists as a unique resource for research, design education and teaching practice.

These tours are in association with Bonington Gallery’s Lace Unarchived exhibition, which is open to the public from Friday 23 February to Thursday 29 March 2018.

Tour Schedule

All tours will last approximately 40 minutes.

Reserve Your Place

Due to the capacity of the Lace Archive, numbers are capped at six people per tour. Places will be allocated on first come first served basis. The tours are open to the public and free to attend.

Reserve your free place.

Lace Unarchived brings together a diverse group of designers and artists from across the UK who have each interpreted Nottingham lace in a unique and contemporary way.

The exhibition includes lengths of contemporary lace by multi award-winning and nationally acclaimed textile designers Timorous Beasties. Light emitting fabrics — inspired by Nottingham lace technologies from Sarah Taylor, Senior Research Fellow at Edinburgh Napier University and Sara Robertson,Tutor at the Royal College of Art — will also feature in the show.

On display is a complete final collection and unseen development work by high-street women’s fashion brand Oasis. Telling the story of Nottingham lace, Oasis have reimagined some of the 75,000 antique lace samples housed in the Lace Archive at Nottingham Trent University. The collection also features a garment by Final Year BA (Hons) Fashion Design student Robert Goddard.

The exhibition will also include works by Mal Burkinshaw, Programme Director of Fashion at the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with Sophie Hallette Lace; filmmaker Matthew Woodham; and artist James Winnett, all of which will be presented alongside samples of machine-made lace dating back to the early 1800s.

Invited for the diversity of their work, the contributors have all studied the intricacies of Nottingham lace and its technology to create pieces that not only celebrates the rich heritage of lace, but also preserves its place in contemporary design for the future.

Visit our blog to read more about the exhibiting artists and the history of the Lace Archive.

Exhibition resources:
Associated Events

Friday 23 February 2018: Light Night
This exhibition is just one of many activities by NTU for Light Night 2018.

Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March 2018: Lace Unravelled Symposium
The Lace Unravelled symposium marks the conclusion of an 18-month research project, exploring Nottingham City Museums and Galleries’ world-class collection of lace and lace machinery.

Saturday 17 March 2018 (booking required): Nottingham Trent University Lace Archive Tours (sold out)

Lace Unravelled is made possible by Arts Council England Designation Development funding.

Exhibition Handout

Download the exhibition handout here

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