This time our story will take us to Australia. What do you imagine when you hear Australia? To me, Australia is a land of courageous people, kangaroos, vivid red colors, a dream world of aboriginals, but I would not picture lace. And yet there is a fascinating lace story to be heard. When I first saw Vicky’s artwork, I was astonished by the tenderness of her work. She chooses pastel colors, which evokes dream-like effects.
Her precise and delicate work, colors, and balanced composition creates a fascinating and calming effect, and yet you can feel movement, gentle movement that tells the story.
But let Vicky tell us her lace story:
To me, bobbin lace making is a unique technique because of the infinite variations in stitch, pattern, and techniques. It stretches your mind, enriches your soul, and satisfies my curiosity beyond anything else that I have done or am doing at present.
I began lace making 40 years ago, initially from a lady in our local town. We had to make our own pillows and bobbins, and crochet cotton was our thread. Because I lived in the countryside and had young children, I was unable to attend a regular class. Instead, our group of beginners invited tutors to visit over weekends, and we sourced whatever books we could find. The tutors came from far and wide, including the UK and Europe, and our skills and knowledge of lace making steadily grew over a very wide range of laces. When the children were older, I was able to travel to places like Tonder in Denmark, the Prague Lace School, and Vamberk in the Czech Republic, Germany, and, more recently, some IODFA Conferences concentrating in classes in contemporary lace. I was very fortunate to have a Dutch lace teacher who traveled 800kms by train to visit our farm a couple of times a year for over ten years. She encouraged me to design, broaden my knowledge of all types of laces, and try different materials while showing me pictures and lace books from her most recent trips back from the Netherlands where she had attended the Kant Centrum in Brugge or taken private lace lessons.
We do not have a traditional type of Australian bobbin lace, but it remains a fun hobby for many people in all parts of the country. It is challenging to earn a living from selling lace or teaching lace. Still, most textile loving people know about bobbin lace making from traveling to other countries, having family members making lace in the past, or seeing it being demonstrated at shows and markets. We are also now seeing lace installations in public places and contemporary lace being included in art galleries and magazines.
The early laces and makers inspire me through to present-day designers who push the boundaries. I am inspired by people like Nora Andries and LIeve Vroom, who have studied and recreated patterns of 17th Century laces, and Rosemary Shepherd with her studies of early laces and the techniques she is continually discovering. I am amazed and inspired by contemporary artists creating lace and lace-like artworks all around the world. I attended the World Lace Congress in Belgium in 2018 and was blown away with the variety and extent of contemporary lacemakers from all over Europe. I have been inspired by modern lace designers such as Nadine Pauwels and Any Nobens in Belgium, Milca Eremiasova from Prague, and many other people reconstructing, recreating, writing books, and inventing new "lace." With Corona Virus and lockdowns around the world, classes and travel are interrupted. This is now being replaced with online workshops and networking around the globe through Instagram, etc., opening up a new way of meeting and working with like-minded artists and lace makers, enabling people like myself living so far away from the heart of lace to be connected. The tyranny of distance has been transformed the latest lace event that might be happening.
My dream was to be fulfilled this year by working with teams of Spanish and Belgium lace makers working on installations for two festivals, one in Ghent, Belgium, and the other in Girona in Spain. Because of CoronaVirus, this is still a dream! Another dream is to continue interacting with lacemakers worldwide and seeing whatever they come up with next!