Home and Away

Fils Comuns, or Common Threads, has run at the Calisay Cultural Centre, Arenys de Mar, Catalonia, through April 2019, a joint exhibition between myself and my long-time collaborator Denise Watts.

Our friendship goes back nearly 30 years, each of us independent-minded researchers mining the depths of which we felt bobbin lace might be capable, at times uncertain but always enthralled by its potential, sometimes downcast by the difficulties in our way but always there to support each other through our travails.

So the video that has been made from our collaboration, vídeo https://youtu.be/Ak0QzjRRbTY, is no accident. Our Common Threads are our love of the technique we use, and our determination to use it as a visual language, each with her own entirely different message. Denise considers women’s issues, using art dolls and horsehair lace as her medium, while my environmental message is communicated with linen.

Our show, created for the lace museum at Arenys de Mar with the advice and selection of Ros Hills, is indebted to the support of our curator Neus Ribas san Emeterio, and her very professional team who displayed it so beautifully. Our thanks go also to the supportive community in the town and the lace community of Catalonia, which we met first at international festivals run by the museum in 2014 and 2016, and which welcomed us warmly to Barcelona in April.

2018 allowed us to engage with the lace community in France, at the lace and embroidery festival in Migennes, Burgundy, where we met again with joy our friend Pierre Varenne, http://varenne.pierre.chez-alice.fr/catalogue_grands_formats.html, whose contemporary oeuvre has been so inspiring. Denise and I also spent time exploring Burgundy with great delight, nosing out quiet corners and inspirational visits such as one to the modern medieval castle at https://www.guedelon.fr/en. Both countries supplied stimulus which will bless us for many years to come.

I'm looking forward to the Rural Crafts Open Day, Harnham Water Meadows Trust, Rose Cottage, Harnham, Salisbury, Wilts, on May 18. There will be demonstrations of the rural crafts of South Wiltshire still practiced to this day, as part of their Heritage Lottery Funded oral history project – including lacemaking, scything, basket making, weaving, spinning, shepherding, green woodworking, baking, pottery, beekeeping and herbal medicine. Entrance free.

For me, this marks a shift in focus to exploring man-made features that pattern a wider landscape, and I shall be joined by the Downton lace expert Shelly Canning for the open day.

I am the grand-daughter of Downton lacemaker Flo Teal, and Wiltshire bee master Harold Teal, who lived at Salisbury, Whiteparish and Shrewton from 1921 to 1954. I have contributed my recollection of their lives to the oral history project.