For Sydney Design 2011, the Powerhouse Museum is celebrating the space in between. They’ll be pondering the spaces that define the boundaries of a composition – the part of the object that, strictly speaking, isn’t part of the object at all.
Love Lace, the Museum’s third ever exhibition dedicated to lacework, will prove that lace is much more than just an underwear preference. Indeed, it’s much more than just fabric: this year, for the first time in the history of the exhibition, the Museum decided to embrace “any openwork structure in which the pattern of spaces is as important as the solid areas”.
This broadening of the definition has resulted in an incredibly diverse array of work. It will feature pieces from over 130 artists from 20 countries trying over 60 different techniques (animation, etching, felting, netting, powder coating, screenprinting, metal casting and so on) on 100 different materials (porcelain, glass, rubber, wood, wool, bamboo, cardboard, echidna spines and so on and so on).
All of the works tackle negative space – many in unconventional and unexpected ways: from traditional bobbin lace to human organs knitted meticulously out of human hair; from woven leaves and saplings to animated and multimedia works; from an exquisite silk chiffon evening dress to a 1906 Model N Ford engine crocheted out of copper wire.
“The Museum has a very nice historical lace collection,” says Lindie Ward, the Powerhouse's design and society curator. “But the whole idea of this is to bump people out of this idea of copying traditional lace, and design completely new motifs in completely new materials.”
Talk about new materials: one of the more remarkable inclusions in the exhibition is artist Ingrid Morley’s ‘Lacie Lorrie’ – an actual old truck left to its rusty fate in an Oberon paddock that now boasts some seriously striking rococo bodywork. The Museum is even launching an iPhone app that tracks the lace-like paths of museum visitors around the CBD.
The Love Lace exhibition hall will be lit to accentuate the shadows and shapes of the works on display, with a spine-like stone wall dominating the room. In keeping with the lacy theme, the structure incorporates porthole-openings for visitors to peer though.
As part of the exhibition, the Powerhouse Museum will also be awarding the inaugural International Lace Award and, over the exhibition’s opening weekend (30–31 Jul), will host seminars, lace-inspired children’s activities and workshops with international lace practitioners.
It’s a groundbreaking exhibition – and it’s only right that it’s happening in Sydney, which, Ward says, has long been a fan of openwork structures. “We have some beautiful openwork designs in the city,” Ward says. “You see lace on the Italianate buildings in Sydney and the gates on the Royal Botanic Gardens. But no one has ever brought all these negative-positive space designs together as a theme. That’s what we’re trying to do.” Free with museum entry