Friday, February 6, 2009

Kantlijnen - The Face of Lace

Kantlijnen - The Face of Lace - is an exhibition of contemporary lace that continues in Bruges until the end of February. Most of the exhibitions are in the museums where photography was not allowed but there were a number of outdoor exhibits and a few where photography was permitted.
How to Plant a Lace Fence (detail, below right), by Demakersvan, follows on from a number of similar works that I had seen in magazines so it was a real pleasure to be able to see the real thing. As a bobbin lace maker it was interesting to look at the techniques employed but the most important aspect is the way in which something that is usually quite ugly can be turned into a thing of beauty that enhances its surroundings. Beneath the windmill was Playgrounds, by Alphons ter Avest, one of a number of lace patterns that had been sprayed onto grass, this one was wearing well but others had all but disappeared as a result of rain and snow. A really interesting idea that works best with really parred down designs.
Laser cutting was a production method used by a number of the artists including Tjep. (Frank Tjepkema and Janneke Hooymans) for House of Textures, left. They were also responsible for three jewellery pieces in the Volkskunde Museum. Such modern methods of cutting contrast well with the exquisite antique cut-paper cards on display in the Gezelle Museum where cut works by Cal Lane (of shovels and wheelbarrow fame) and Tord Boontje were displayed.
Outdoor Wallpaper by Susan Bradley was excellent, the more you looked the more you saw. The basic motif was combined into units of four or five which were further combined to make flowing patterns. Setting such a clean cut modern work against the beautiful old wall not only highlighted their material differences but also the way in which the minor changes in surface angle subtly enhance their beauty.
The Belfry housed an exhibition of lace chairs that were all displayed above head height on blue painted packing crates. This was a very innovative presentation that really engaged the passing tourists.
Being someone who likes to get up close to displays I would have liked a ladder to hand but could see how effective the display was in catching the attention of those who would normally have passed it by. One of my favourites was Robert Stadler's Rest in Peace (centre), although I would have preferred to see the holey chair on its own and not stacked on a 'perfect' version but I suppose this was done for the contrast.
Diamond Chair by Nendo, for Lexus, is not full sized as it is made by Rapid Prototyping and there are currently no machines that are large enough to handle a full size chair. It was fascinating to look through the form from different angles and observe the changing lace patterns that emerge.
A thoroughly stimulating three days from which my favourite pieces were Serena by Rudolf Nottrot & Tamar Frank and Kingdom by Dylan Graham. It was also really good to see Loop's Sonumbra 2 in the flesh although I was disappointed that it was not staged/working at its best. Unfortunately none of these were in situations where photography was permitted.


Carol Quarini and I undertook a research trip to Bruges to see Kantlijnen, the city wide exhibition of contemporary lace. Quite appart from the lace Bruges is a beautiful city with numerous public artworks on display outdoors.
Ice on the canal beside the Sint-Jan-Hospitaalmuseum.

The Belfry, which held the display of chairs.

One of the Four Horsemen of the Appocalypse by Rik Poot, 1981-7, bronze

Sculpture by Pablo Atchugarry (1999), marble

Terrace of the shop 2be with lights in the tree that lit quite randomly. The shop also has a 'Beer wall' displaying the vast array of bottled beers that it sells.

Historic Walk from Geevor Tin Mine

A guided walk from Geevor Tin Mine, Pendeen, Cornwall took us through evidence of man's presence from the Mesolithic to the 21st century.
Our first port of call was the Slimes Plant, not usually open to visitors, where the processes involved in the reclamation of tin ore was explained. The picture, above, shows the prototype Slime Decks that were developed here in the 1970's to reclaim the finer ore particles from the slime (wet, crushed rock from the mine). We were also introduced to vanning tables and buddles.
From here we walked out of the mine site towards the village of Boscaswell, with areas renowned for their Neolithic flints (struck from beach pebbles - there being no local source) being pointed out on the way. In 2005/6 a sewer project cut through the area and a large area of charcoal was discovered and a stone-lined pit. The Beaker pottery from the area dated it to approximately 2,000 bc, making it the earliest Beaker culture settlement in Cornwall. At this period the climate was much milder and the sea would have been about half a mile further out.
At Boscawell we were shown the Fogou and told about the 'Holy Well'. The Fogou was originally associated with an Iron Age village that evidence points to being situated beneath the current village. There is a second fogou at a near-by farm in Pendeen that is apparently larger but more difficult to access. Despite much speculation the original purpose of Fogou's has never been satisfactorily explained.
Somewhat further east, and closer to the current cliff edge, we were shown the geophysical surveys of this field which show it to be full of responses that the archaeologists expect to be Iron Age round houses. It is hoped to get funding for excavations of the site in the near future so I will hopefully be able to see the results for my self.
From here we walked back along the cliffs, past a number of old mine workings, towards the Geevor/Levant complex. The landscape here appears to be one of desolation but there is beauty to be found among the ruins, not least on the cliffs where the stunning blues and greens evidence the leeching of copper minerals from the mine run-off waters. Amongst the ruins buildings are numerous examples of the effects of salt laden air on metal, I am very partial to a bit of rust and there are some superb pieces here.
One of the ruins that fascinates me is the old arsenic works, unfortunately the labyrinth has been covered for health and safety reasons and is now a gigantic spoil heap. The main chimney and calciner still remain. The arsenic was exported to Lancashire cotton mills as a mordant for yellow dyes and also used in the manufacture of green wallpapers. It is thought that the William Morris green wallpapers may have accidentally caused many poisonings as the arsenic was released by damp walls. It is as well to know that arsenic smells of garlic when poking about old mine workings but in the spring many of these have a carpet of wild garlic plants, making it difficult to tell which is the source of the smell.
Walking through the working we came to Levant zawn where the power of last winters storms had detached this vast section of cliff crashing down into the sea. The mine workings of Geevor and Levant both extended about half a mile out beneath the sea and there are many tales of the miners being able to hear the pebbles rolling in the surf as they worked beneath them.
Turning inland we visited the old Count House, where the mine manager lived and the investors held their meetings. The luxury that had once been is evidenced by the remains of beautiful floor tiles in several rooms. Above this was the 'Dry' where the miners changed for work. There were two concrete baths still in evidence but I doubt that the men who used them enjoyed the views to Pendeen Watch as much as we did.