Lace and Louboutins

Ecosse Noir by Crikey Aphrodite Photo: Louise Cantwell Model: Kasumi Noir
Ecosse Noir by Crikey Aphrodite Photo: Louise Cantwell Model: Kasumi Noir

An exciting new exhibition at The Dick Institute in Kilmarnock, Scotland Creates: Legacy of Lace, focuses on Ayrshire’s rich industrial heritage, examining in particular textiles, lace and footwear.

Hand-made lace was produced in Ayrshire from as early as the 16th century and was the main product of Ayrshire’s Irvine Valley towns, including Darvel, Newmilns and Galston in the 19th century. The move to machine lace took place in the late 19th century with the introduction of the first powered lace-looms, imported from Nottingham by Alexander Morton, and lace production boomed until WWII with Ayrshire supplying fifty percent of all lace in Britain.

One of the first ‘valley’ companies was Messrs. Hood, Morton, Cleland & Co., and Morton’s name survives today as MYB (Morton, Young + Borland) Textiles.  They continue to produce both traditional and contemporary lace using original Nottingham Lace Looms, and are the only remaining producer of genuine Scottish Madras.

Lace craft in Scotland is beginning to thrive again in the contemporary design world with a range of innovative approaches, from lacework drawn with cotton threads as fine as a spider’s web, to contemporary art installations made from material as thick and sturdy as tensile steel. The exhibition offers a fresh perspective by looking at contemporary fashion and art, and features contemporary experimentation with lace by individual artists/designers and companies such as MYB Textiles, with examples of corsetry, jewellery, furnishing and ceramics to demonstrate how the historic Ayrshire industries are still relevant today.

Jasmine Ring by Julia Burness
Jasmine Ring by Julia Burness

The exhibition brings together objects selected from East Ayrshire Council’s own collections alongside objects on loan from National Museums’ collections in addition to contemporary works by Crikey Aphrodite, Strumpet & Pink, Minna Hepburn and Ebba Goring amongst others.

Scotland Creates: A Sense of Place is a collaborative project between National Museums Scotland and four partner museums across Scotland – The Dick; McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock; The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum and Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway & Benbecula. Each partner museum is producing an exhibition in 2013 culminating in a final joint exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in 2014.  The exhibitions vary in style and scope, but all have the common theme of ‘a sense of place’, referencing some aspect of the local area.

Also currently open is the exhibition at Museum nan Eilean based at Sgoil Lionacleit in Benbecula which focuses on the weather with borrowed works including a tweet suit by Vivienne Westwood and is open until 28 September 2013.

Article by Tina Rose

See: A Sense of Place: Legacy of Lace
Until 7 September
Dick Institute Elmbank Avenue, Kilmarnock, KA1 3BN
Open Tues – Sat 11am – 5pm

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