Ink on paper
180 x 90 cm
This drawing of a Victorian lace shawl from Worthing Museum was created by Teresa Whitfield with the help of gallery volunteers in August 2009 as part of a Residency at Fabrica in Brighton during the John Grade exhibition ‘Elephant Bed’. The volunteers worked with Teresa Whitfield in 3-hour shifts in groups of four or five, initially sitting at a practice table where they were trained by the artist to draw areas of specific detail. There is a long tradition of artists using studio or gallery assistants to help in the creation of their work but this drawing was inspired by the 19th century Honiton lace makers who were commissioned to make the flounce, veil and trimmings for Queen Victoria’s wedding dress, the entire commission taking two hundred people over nine months to complete.
Ink on paper
66 x 78 cm
Commissioned by Nottingham Castle Museum, this drawing marks the transition from the depiction of hand-made to machine-made lace in Teresa Whitfield’s work and uncovers some unexpected and intriguing contradictions. The panel of black Leaver’s lace from the Nottingham Castle Museum collection depicted in this drawing is extremely fine and delicate but has been produced by a large, noisy machine and is in fact more repetitive in technique and less complex in design than the hand-made lace it emulated. The inconsistencies between the two types of lace is further emphasised by the fact that the lace panel in the drawing has evidently been quite roughly cut from a bolt of fabric, the relative cheapness of machine-made in comparison to hand-made lace being clearly articulated.
Ink on paper
105 x 85 cm
The 170 year old lace depicted in the drawing ‘Charlotte Bronte’s Shawl’ has suffered some deterioration since Bronte’s death in 1855 and in places the shawl, from the Bronte Parsonage Museum, West Yorkshire, has literally crumbled. But by depicting the shawl in its complete and undamaged state, the drawing has pre-empted the work of museum conservators and enables the viewer to have an authentic and emotional encounter with the shawl. The long and solitary process of drawing the shawl is a reminder of the hours and weeks of intense concentration intrinsic to the creation of Bronte’s novels. The drawing engenders unexpected connections with the shawl’s former owner who was renowned for her diminutive pen and ink script, obsessively producing miniature hand-written books in an activity not dissimilar to the drawing technique utilised here.