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Historic lace from national archive to go on show in new exhibition

Lace dating back to the 1800s will go on show in a unique exhibition to celebrate Nottingham’s world-renowned, and pivotal, textile heritage.

lace unarchived
Dr Amanda Briggs-Goode
Head of Fashion, Textile and Knitwear Design at Nottingham Trent University

Bonington Gallery will present Lace Unarchived - displaying items from the nationally significant Lace Archive at Nottingham Trent University – to tell the story of Nottingham lace.

The archive is considered to be of local, national and international importance, providing a unique resource for research and design education.

The gallery will run tours of the archive, providing special access to historic items of lace, including a pattern from the wedding dress of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. This rare piece is the same pattern as the lace used on the Queen Mother’s wedding dress and was produced around the time of her wedding in 1923.

Famous lace makers on show will include William Hallam Pegg, whose lace designs from the 1930s expressed his socialist beliefs, and Harry Cross’s original designs for the Battle of Britain panel, produced in 1947.

Also on show will be the original items used to inspire a collection from high-street women’s fashion brand, Oasis, demonstrating the company’s re-imagining of antique lace samples housed in the archive at Nottingham Trent University. A handling table will allow visitors to touch and feel some pieces.

Dr Amanda Briggs-Goode, Head of Fashion, Textile and Knitwear Design at Nottingham Trent University, said: “This exhibition demonstrates the rich and valuable heritage of Nottingham Lace and the city’s unique and central position in the development of this now global industry.

“Lace Unarchived is a timely reminder in Nottingham Trent University’s 175 year history that Nottingham Lace technology spurred an industry which when combined with an art school flourished.  These machines are still driving commercial practice and innovation while the lace archive remains an important catalyst for creativity.”

As Nottingham Trent celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2018, the exhibition highlights the university’s long-standing connection with the city’s lace heritage. Nottingham Government School of Design was opened in 1843 to provide education to support the growth of the lace and hosiery industries in Nottingham.

Barbara Matthews, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Culture) at Nottingham Trent University, said: “This exhibition is one of a number of ways in which we are celebrating our 175th anniversary.  Art and design have played a major part throughout NTU’s history, with our teaching and research helping to shape the cultural fabric of the world around us. Our staff, students and graduates continue to make a valuable contribution to the creative life of Nottingham and the creative industries more widely.

“As we celebrate this and look back on what has been achieved since 1843, it’s also an opportunity to look to the future and consider how, in partnership with industry and cultural organisations, we continue to create the leading artists and designers of tomorrow.”

The opening of the exhibition coincides with Nottingham Night Light, which sees buildings and public spaces in the city illuminated in colour for an evening. Light emitting fabrics, created by weaving optical fibres together which send light signals between the strands, will feature in the exhibition to celebrate the event.

Two artists have been commissioned to produce work for the exhibition. James Winnett has reinvented found lace patterns sourced from salvage yards, to explore the relationship between industrial and artistic labour. While Matthew Woodham has created two sculptures that present digitized items from the archive via 40 old-fashioned TV monitors.

Michael Marsden, Dean of the School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University, said: “This exhibition celebrates 175 years of innovation and demonstrates the School of Art & Design’s commitment to deliver high quality education and undertake research that will contribute to contemporary textile design for years to come.”

Lace Unarchived is on display at Bonington Gallery from Friday, 23 February – Thursday, 29 March. Tours of the Lace Archive will take place on Saturday, 17 March.

  • Notes for editors

    Nottingham Trent University was named University of the Year 2017 at the Times Higher Education Awards and Modern University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. The award recognises NTU for its strong student satisfaction, quality of teaching, overall student experience and engagement with employers.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is one of the largest UK universities with nearly 30,000 students and some 4,000 staff across four campuses, contributing £496m to the UK economy every year.

    It is one of the most environmentally-friendly universities, containing some of the country’s most inspiring and efficient award-winning buildings.

    The University is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. The University is the sixth biggest recruiter of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the country and 95.6% of its graduates go on to employment or further education within six months of leaving.

    NTU is home to world-class research, winning The Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015 - the highest national honour for a UK university. The prize recognised pioneering projects to improve the detection of weapons and explosives in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula and combat food fraud.

    With an international student population of approximately 2,600 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook and seeks to attract talented students and staff from across the world.

Published on 26 February 2018
  • Subject area: Art and design
  • Category: Curated & Created; Press office; School of Art & Design