Perfect Skin

Perfect Skin
200 x 200 x 5cm

Perfect Skin 1995

The majority of my lace works prior to 1994 had been based on photographs or pattern books. On a visit to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester I noticed that several cases contained fragments of lace that looked exactly like the examples I’d been looking at. I began to think it would be exciting to research real lace and the Whitworth seemed the perfect venue. The 1996 exhibition Material Evidence – Improvisations on a Historical Theme, was curated by Jennifer Harris, Deputy Director and curator of textiles. The plan was to make 6 large-scale contemporary works based on the galleries lace collection. As soon as I began, I realized that real lace had experienced a life, there were tears, sections missing, stains even holes, all of which was very different from the perfect images I’d previously looked at. The four lighter colored panes are based on the original 16th century lace images; the five red panels in the work are drawn from a section of late 17th century Milanese, bobbin lace sourced from the galleries collection. The works a meditation on perfection, how like our own skin, fabric changes through use, wear and time.

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