Lace Unveiled: Joana Vasconcelos Mestre de Avis, 2014 Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro faience painted with ceramic glaze, Azores crocheted lace Bragança, 2012 Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro faience painted with ceramic glaze, Azores crocheted lace Both works from Fundação Joana Vasconcelos, Lisbon
“Lace is paradoxical in that it was used by Portuguese women to fill the emptiness of their lives; it was the only means of expression available, the sole response to an absolutely passive social situation. […] Lace decorates and protects, but protection is another manifestation of imprisonment. It’s for the spectator to decide what the crochet means for him, whether it’s showpiece or dungeon.” Joana Vasconcelos, Joana Vasconcelos Versailles, 2012 Joana Vasconcelos lives and works in Lisbon. In this series, she wraps ceramic wasps, lizards, snakes, lobsters, and wolves in Azores* crocheted lace. Vasconcelos chose these creatures because of their tendency to provoke feelings of discomfort, awe or fear. The ceramics were designed by Portuguese artist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846-1905). Vasconcelos’ use of crochet to mummify them seeks to challenge our ideas around femininity, tradition and modernity. Lace Unveiled** includes two lace-wrapped wolves. When the poet Lord Byron lived at Newstead Abbey he kept many animals including a tame wolf. A painting of Byron’s wolf dog ‘Lyon’ can be seen in the South Gallery. *The Azores – an autonomous region of Portugal **The Lace Unveiled exhibition is part of Lace Unravelled, a season of events to celebrate Nottingham City Museums and Galleries’ world-class lace collection and Nottingham’s machine-made lace heritage.