Fox Talbot’s salt prints of lace entrance me. In contrast to his images of ladders and haybales we never see an obvious provenance for the lace. Bought by the family governess, borrowed from his wife’s sewing drawer, a memento of travels?
Lace has been a daily feature of my life from the net curtains of my childhood to my current underwear. I have been working with lace for some time, intrigued by how, like light, it masks and unmasks, conceals and reveals. Net curtains conceal the interior, lace underwear artfully reveals it. Lace seemed to surface in my practice at every opportunity but I still wasn’t making the work I wanted to. Then, responding to Fox Talbot’s lace print I searched eBay – exploring the unknown, the exotic and the outré qualities of second-hand underwear. This enabled me to transpose the lace from the private to the public, whilst retaining elements of the unknown, paying tribute to Fox Talbot’s ground-breaking images and re-contextualising lace to the modern day.
I am intrigued by the life-size aspect of this work. The photograms are unrelentingly 1:1 – these garments are bigger than our expectations from the photoshopped models and tiny swipe right images that we see on billboards and our mobile devices. There is a shared intimacy – the intricate lace touches the paper the same way that it touches our skin. The photograms often show us the skin side of the fabric, increasing the intimacy still further. The lack of surface detail and contextual information means that we can’t tell the brand, the size, not even the colour. With all this information removed, we are forced to concentrate on the form, the fabric, our questions and our imagination.