Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Love Lace

 [Pricking, an interactive multi-touch table and custom-made digital construction kit for lace making
 by MESNE and supermanoeuvre. Photo by Tim Schork via the Powerhouse Museum.]

Something which simultaneously conceals and reveals. That's always been the essence of lace. But more than ever, artists are looking to lace for inspiration and they're coming away re-thinking traditional lace motifs.

[Cheongsam, sheet copper, saw-pierced by hand, raised and formed by Elise Benjamin. 
Photo by Marinco Kojanovski via the Powerhouse Museum.]

Several months ago we saw UK and other international artists pushing the boundaries of what lace can be in Lost in Lace. Similarly, right now down in Australia, a large Powerhouse Museum exhibition, Love Lace, explores not only textiles, fashion, and classic lace-making techniques but also sculpture, jewelery, and digital pieces. In short, all sorts of openwork structures. According to museum curator Lindie Ward, the common denominator is pattern and the interplay between solid and open spaces.

Influenced by her strict Chinese upbringing, artist Elise Benjamin re-imagined the iconic cheongsam (traditional Chinese dress) as a gorgeous but rather rigid cage of copper "lace." She literally laced it through with both English and Chinese words -- a nod to the East-West cultural push-pull she grew up with.

[Etched Leaf Vessels, ice porcelain thrown, pierced, etched, and polished by Sandra Black.
Photo by Marinco Kojanovski via the Powerhouse Museum.]

In nature, leaves on branches often come together in a lace-like way, forming a veil against the sky, and I have spotted more than one leafy piece in the Powerhouse show. Ceramicist Sandra Black's pierced and etched porcelain bowls, for example. Black's focus is the passage of light and its ability to form patterns.

Btw, the museum offers a wealth of info online, so it's possible to have a virtual visit. Especially via the free app, which was updated last week. (The interview with Benjamin is terrific.) Detailed explanations of lace techniques are available here. If you are planning to be in Australia in the near future, the exhibition continues through April 2013.


Emile de Bruijn said...

Great idea to make a cheongsam out of words and characters: in view of the sometimes anthropomorphic nature of letters and characters, but also with regards to the function of text as 'clothing' an idea.

On a different but related level, there is a British clothing label that I started noticing a few years ago that features characters as a standard design element, being a kind of visual blend of American and Japanese sportswear styles targeted at a young British audience. And it's mainstream too, not niche - extraordinary.

Emile de Bruijn said...

I forgot to add the name of that label! It's called Superdry.

Style Court said...

Emile -- I was just about to email you and ask, so thanks! I knew you'd have an interesting perspective on the copper dress.