Characterised by a close resemblance to real fabric, Teresa Whitfield’s highly detailed ink drawings reference a time before the industrial revolution, when hand-made textiles were part of everyday domestic life for women.
The drawing method that Teresa Whitfield uses bears a striking resemblance to the process of using thread so that the drawings are more like a re-enactment of lace-making than simply a likeness to the end product; the level of realism in the work often confuses the viewer as to whether they are contemplating a real piece of lace or a photograph. The drawings occupy an unusual space between the drawing of an object and the recreation of it in a different medium.
The recent resurgence of interest in the cultural significance of craft skills within the visual arts has provoked considerable debate and discussion about lace-making. Not only do these drawings highlight the demise of the hand-made lace industry, but more importantly they explore ways in which the lace industry in particular is archived by our public museums.
By using a low-tech labour-intensive process such as drawing Teresa Whitfield’s work prompts discussion about the loss of craft skills in a mechanised and digital culture and provides audiences with a visual understanding of the impact of these changes. The viewer is encouraged to take a closer look at both hand-made and machine-made lace; and by contemplating the relationship between the painstaking method of production of these drawings and the highly skilled and time-consuming production of lace, to reconsider their perceptions of each.