The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2015 > Common Grounds: Lace Drawn From The Everyday

Common Grounds: Lace Drawn From The Everyday

2 May - 28 June 2015

An installation of light sensitive drawings by artist Sarah Casey went on show in The Bowes Museum’s award winning Fashion & Textiles Gallery.

Common Grounds: Lace Drawn from the Everyday featured a selection of Casey’s drawings of bonnets which literally brought to light hidden aspects of the internationally significant Blackborne Lace Collection, the whole of which was gifted to the Museum in 2006 by descendants of A Blackborne & Co, master lace dealers in 19th century London.

In addition to the main Blackborne collection, which is exceptional in its quality and quantity, the Museum received a secondary group of items categorised as the ‘B’ collection. Unlike the main collection, which contains some of the finest surviving examples of handmade lace dating from the 16th century, the latter is principally the lace of ordinary people. It consists of reworked fragments of lace from a range of sources, with the quality itself uneven, although some fragments of lace on the bonnets is close to 300 years old.

And it is these which inspired Casey’s exquisite, transparent drawings after she opened two unsorted trunks of stock from Blackborne’s shop, which had lain unexamined and overlooked for 70 years. 

Intrigued, she began sorting through the bundled together articles, visually enjoying the process of examining and creating a record of their personal and social history, while further exploring how drawing can both examine unseen aspects of the collection and present it creatively to the public. 

For the exhibition, Casey catalogued every lace bonnet via 54 ‘hidden’ drawings which appear like x-rays or scans, revealed only when held up to the light. 

This innovative approach to exhibiting aspects of the collection seeks to revalue this overlooked lace, bridging a gap between high art and everyday textiles of ordinary people.

The drawings were presented alongside the lace bonnets and the carriage trunks in which they were stored, together with a selection of the finest bonnets from the main collection which had been conserved.

Related Events

Drawing Common Grounds
2 May, 2.15
Artist Sarah Casey talks about her collaboration with The Bowes Museum to research the Category B Lace collection and her process of making the drawings for the exhibition Common Grounds. Booking required

13, 14, 20, & 26 May, 11 June, 10.30 & 3.00 (approximately)

To celebrate this exhibition lace makers from local guilds will be demonstrating their technique and answering questions from visitors.

Printing Lace
26 May, 10.30 - 3.30 
Children can explore the exhibition with a children’s trail before trying printing techniques to create your own lace inspired artwork to take home. Children must be accompanied by an adult, for whom normal admission applies. 

Gallery Talk
1 June, 2.15
Join artist, Sarah Casey, for an introduction to this exhibition.