Major international lace exhibition weaves its way around Limerick

  • NeSpoon Hybrid Lace
Street artist Nespoon's lace installation at Merchants Quay Limerick which will feature as part of the lace exhibition HYBRID. Picture: Alan Place

‘Hybrid; Limerick Lace Liminal Identity’ reflects the fact Limerick lace is a hybrid lace - it is both a handmade and a machine made lace as the lace is embroidered on a machine made net. 

This coming together of old and new technology to make something beautiful has been the defining aspect of Limerick Lace.

Hybrid is a major joint project between Limerick Museum and Archives and LIT’s Limerick School of Art and Design. This is an important international lace exhibition with exhibits on display from Ireland, Britain and France. Hybrid will display both international and local, modern and historic, lace-related items.

The exhibition is running until the 4 November 2016 in three venues: Council Offices, Merchant’s Quay; LIT Limerick School of Art and Design, Clare Street and FabLab, Rutland Street.

The use of multi site locations aims to imprint a stamp or footprint of lace on Limerick once again. Lace was once made and sold throughout the city. Fablab on Rutland Street focuses on process and the mechanics of lacemaking, the stitches and their structure. Here a key exhibition is the work of current lacemakers in Limerick to traditional designs juxtaposed with art work made instead with laser cutting and digital technology.

Bringing lace to the streets of Limerick Polish artist Nespoon has spun a stunning weblike piece in the Plaza outside the council offices at Merchant’s Quay. While inside an exhibition of new designs for lace by students of LSAD will be on display in the Glazed Street.  Making a bold statement are the windows of the former Town Hall where the logo HYBRID is emblazoned across the front of the building using the windows to frame the exhibition logo.

The Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon said:”Hybrid is brining Limerick Lace back to the masses, back into the public sphere. It’s great to see the public enjoying NeSpoon’s art work- acknowledging in a fun way the great tradition of lace making in Limerick.”

Other locations include The Church Gallery in Clare Street which showcases some stunning examples of Limerick lace including a christening robe on loan from Lady Dunraven, a beautiful dress in Carrickmacross lace on loan from Lady Limerick. The exhibitions also includes example of Kenmare lace and Irish crochet which are juxtaposed with artworks inspired by lace.

Giordana Giache lecturer at Limerick School of Art and Design said: “The principles and beauty of lace are represented by works on display which are inspired by lace. Lace emerges from the world of textiles and becomes the inspiration for works in metal by Jane Murtagh and in glass by Róisín de Buitléar. Michael Canning’s suite of works inspired by Limerick lace forms a centre piece.”

“The history and tradition of Limerick lace come face to face with contemporary design and new materials. Art works inspired by Nottingham lace, which is entirely machine made. A print maker Dawn Cole used lace as a metaphor for a sense of entrapment.  Her piece ‘Wound in Back and Bullet Came Out in Front’ reflects the deception felt by many towards the First World War that it was not of their making.”

“I think that it is no exaggeration to describe Limerick as Ireland’s lace capital. Limerick had the largest lace industry in Irish history. At its height, the industry employed 1,800 women and girls in Limerick, and its products were exported all over the world.  It  became a high fashion item, worn by some of the most influential women in the world - Queen Victoria, Queen Louis of the Belgians and the American First Lady Edith Roosevelt.  It is also of interest in this centenary year of the 1916 Rising that one of the rebel leaders, Countess Markievicz also wore Limerick lace,” she added.

Jacqui Hayes, Archivist with Limerick City and County Council said: “Not only is Limerick the capital of Irish lace, but it has established links with Calais, the capital of French lace and Nottingham, the capital of British lace. I am delighted to see that exhibits from Britain and France are included in the exhibition, underlying how lace is an international network, to coin a phrase, a global network of which Limerick lace has been an important part for nearly 200 years.”

“There are also examples of the most famous Irish laces on display as well, with Carrickmacross, Kenmare and Limerick all represented here. Last but by no means least, Hybrid includes some wonderful lace-related items made from glass, woven wire and other materials.”

“Limerick is currently undergoing a significant revival, economically, socially and culturally and its proud, world-class lace heritage can play a major role in this process.”

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Treaty Stone Limerick. Photo Piotr Machowczyk