Saturday, 5 November 2011

Lace Exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

A quick train ride this morning, took us to Birmingham.  I had heard about this exhibition from a knitting friend, and thought that this would be the outing for this weekend.  The collection of antique lace was beautifully set out in cabinets with glass tops, so it was possible to look down onto the pieces.  This handkerchief with hand made lace border was on the wall.

The detail was wonderful, and the work so fine, that I cannot imagine the hours of work that it would have taken to make them. 

The type of flax plant, which made the very fine fiber  is 'extinct'...well if this is not a challenge to plant hunters to find it again, perhaps growing wild along some grass verge. I wonder if there would be some commercial use for so fine a linen thread, as silk and artificial threads are used.

A short walk to another gallery took us to the modern part of the exhibition....this was art which purported to take its inspiration from lace....fairly interesting, and a clever use of new materials, defunct computer punch cards, drilling holes in mdf etc...

The lack of expertise or hours spent on the work compared to that of the lace designers and makers was glaringly obvious.  Of course there would have been no eye strain, no years of training from the age of six, no back ache, and pay beyond the wildest dreams of (mainly) those women who would get less than the value of a meagre meal for a whole day's work!  No one now would want to commission intricate lace, and there are grants to pay for artists to come from all over the world, to fill space.  However I doubt any of the modern pieces will be on show in 300 years time.

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