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Unit(s) of assessment: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

School: School of Art & Design


The Heritage research group is located within the School of Art and Design and led by Professor Amanda Briggs-Goode. The group has built a strong team of experts in Lace History and Contemporary Creative Practice able to deliver innovative cross-disciplinary research, which informs design education and teaching locally, nationally and internationally.

Since the mid-eighteenth century the lace industry played a major role in forming communities around the world. It was responsible for shaping the urban landscape of the City of Nottingham, not only physically, but also socially and culturally. The legacy of Nottingham’s lace is at the heart of our research and practice. Our aim is to deepen an understanding of the importance of the lace industry in forming local and regional identities, and to inspire innovative creative practices for future economic and cultural benefits.

The Lace Archive

The Nottingham Trent University Lace Archive includes 75,000 items of lace, which have been acquired from bequests by local companies and the Nottingham Lace Federation.

Donations were made from the late-19th up to the mid-20th century and included single pieces of lace, items in manufacturers sample books, portfolios of photography and design, collections of prize-winning examples from international lace competitions, as well as books on lace history and teaching aids used throughout the archive’s life. This collection is considered to be of local, national and international importance. Its growth, and continued use, gives a unique opportunity to scrutinise technical proficiency and innovation within a specific commodity sector, in the context of the history of design education and teaching practice.

Lace Heritage strives to lead the international research agenda across NTU’s disciplinary spectrum and through interdisciplinary and commercial initiatives. We focus on:

  • developing local and regional identities through oral histories and the Lace Archive
  • advancing creative practices to booster their cultural and economic benefits
  • stimulating new innovative work from undergraduate and postgraduate students.
  • building relationships with industry partners
  • fostering commercial relationships and applications.

Impact on Society

We focus on long-term collaborative research and practice and work with our partners towards creating a comprehensive knowledgebase in the field of lace heritage research. We aim to explore the implications of the loss of the lace industry in relation to identity construction in the City of Nottingham, and to examine the behaviour of a culturally-changing creativity within the region. Our activities offer a platform for comparative research in other manifestations of interrupted narratives in creative and post-creative identities. In pursuit of this, we work towards:

  • recognition of the archive by the museum sector
  • increasing access for scholarly and creative activity
  • deepening an understanding of the Archives contents and value
  • developing Lace: Here: Now as a biannual event
  • increasing PhD figures
  • attracting funding to enable for museum standard care
  • building increased access to the archive through digital means
  • creating a repository of local voices from the machine lace trade in Nottingham
  • boosting international collaborative activity with other archives.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 83% of our research in Art and Design was assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of research impact.

Related staff

Associated PhD Projects

  • BUTTRESS, J (2013). The Metaphorical Value of Lace in Contemporary Art: The Transformative Process of a Practice-Led Inquiry (AHRC funded).

    ‘This inquiry examines lace as a metaphor in contemporary art, comprising a practice- led inquiry based on the lace archive of Nottingham Trent University. Lace is placed in the context of creative art practice to establish an overview and understanding of the multifarious associations used to articulate ideas and concepts.’

    Supervisory team: Tom Fisher, Amanda Briggs-Goode, Danica Maier. headimgs

  • DONOVAN, N (ongoing). Out of the Archive - On the development of a dialogical art practice initiated by Nottingham’s lace heritage (Vice Chancellors Award with collaborative partner Nottingham Castle).

    ‘This study explores how author’s skills as an artist might be used to create space, via a series of installation performances in retail environments, for informal narratives of Nottingham’s lace heritage to emerge. A poststructural position supports the aim of this thesis to question and wherever possible, disrupt hierarchies encountered in not only notions of ‘heritage’ and the ‘art-world’ but also in day-to-day interactions with others.’

    Supervisory team: Tom Fisher, Amanda Briggs-Goode and Graham Black.


Journal Articles

  • Briggs-Goode, A & Buttress, J. (2009) A taxonomy of pattern through the analysis of Nottingham lace. In: Association of Fashion and Textile Courses, University of Liverpool, 17-18 November 2009.
  • Townsend, K & Buttress, J. (2010) High Falls Water, Lace and the Body (visual Essay). Duck: Journal for Textiles Research and Textile Design, issue 1.
  • Fisher, T. (2012) ‘Lace Across Time and Space, and Into the Future’, in Stéphane Curveiller, Florence Hachez-Leroy and Gérard Beauvillain (eds) La Traversée France-Angleterre Du Moyen Âge á Nos Jours, (pp81-88) Artois: Artois Presses Université.
  • Donovan, N. (2012) 'Sex, Death & Chocolate – Keys to Access? Opening Discourses of Community Identity at Performances of Nottingham’s Lace Heritage’ at Critical Heritage Studies Conference, Gothenburg University, Sweden.


  • Donovan, N. (2013), Sexuality, Deathliness, and Chocolate: Performing Nottingham’s Lace Heritage in the Retailscape In: Crafting Heritage, Gothenburg: Gothenburg University Press (Book chapter due for publication in June 2013)
  • Briggs-Goode, A. & Dean, D. (2013) Lace: Here: Now, London: Black Dog Publishing (due for publication October 2013).

Related projects


  • 2014: Tessa Acti, Lace Bird (2012), Lace Effects, Cite Internationale de la Dentelle et de la Mode de Calais, Calais, France
  • 2013: NTU staff and students (textiles, fashion and decorative arts) Evolutions in Lace (2012), Spinexpo, Shanghai, China
  • 2013: NTU staff and students (textiles, fashion and decorative arts) Evolutions in Lace (2012), Spinexpo, New York, USA
  • 2012: Nicola Donovan, Still (2012), Bloom (2012) and Lacework (2011), Lace Works, Nottingham Castle, Nottingham
  • 2012: Joy Buttress, Worn (2012), Lace Works, Nottingham Castle, Nottingham
  • 2012: Joy Buttress Lacuna (2012) (solo show), Bonington Gallery Nottingham
  • 2012: NTU Staff (textiles, fashion and decorative arts) Journeys in Lace-part one (2012), Wallner Gallery Lakeside, Nottingham
  • 2012: NTU students and staff (textiles, fashion and decorative arts) Journeys in Lace–part two (2012), Bonington gallery, Nottingham Trent University
  • 2011-2013: Joy Buttress, Skin Reveals Skin (2011), Love Lace, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia
  • 2011: Joy Buttress, Lace Glove (2011), The Evolution of Stitch, Wallner Gallery, Lakeside, Nottingham
  • 2011: Madeleine Burt, Archive (2011)(solo show), Crocus gallery, Nottingham
  • 2010: Katherine Townsend, Lace Flow (2010), Closely Held Secrets, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University
  • 2010: Joy Buttress and Wolfgang Buttress, Veil (2010), Inside Outside, SW1 Gallery, London
  • 2009: Joy Buttress and Wolfgang Buttress, Veil (2009), Wallner Gallery, Lakeside,
  • 2009: Joy Buttress, High Falls: water, lace and the body (2009), Capturing Rhythm and Space, Hong Kong Polytechnic gallery, Hong Kong
  • 2009: Katherine Townsend, High Falls: water, lace and the body (2009), Capturing Rhythm and Space, Hong Kong Polytechnic gallery, Hong Kong - 2009: Danica Maier, Midlands and Tooraloorals (2009), GEDOK, Karlsruhe, Germany

Films produced for Journeys in Lace exhibition: