Tracery – Venice and the Lakes Interlaced by Deidre Kelly at Brantwood, Cumbria, Until 11 July 2023, from £11.50 - Book now
Set in the stunning surroundings of Brantwood – a place once home to the hugely influential English writer and artist – John Ruskin, Tracery is an exhibition of works by Déirdre Kelly that emulate Ruskin’s dedication to observation, while honouring his love of Venice and the Lakes.
Ruskin was captivated by the tracery of Venetian architecture. He recorded, in words and with his own hand, the actual traceries of the city. He also set about tracing the historical origins of the stone lacework and placed great value on the work of the hand. Writing about nature and art in Venice, Ruskin’s language could easily be describing a piece of lacework, “Their capitals rich with interwoven tracery, rooted knots of herbage, and drifting leaves of acanthus and vine, and mystical signs, all beginning and ending in the Cross: and above them in the broad archivolts, a continuous chain of language and life”.
Taking inspiration from Ruskin’s work, for this delicate and considered exhibition, visual artist Déirdre Kelly has engaged with the lacemakers of Venice’s past, via the city’s historical lace collections archived in the Museum of Lace in Burano and the Library of the History of Textiles and Costume at the Palazzo Mocenigo. Tracing authentic antique Venetian lace designs into maps of the Lake District by hand, this new series of works adds beauty to cartography, paying homage to the ‘imparraticci’ (paper models) used by the lace makers of Burano for centuries.
The exhibition also celebrates the rich creativity of the female hand through the ages. Just as the lacemakers of the Lakes and Venice found ways to tell their stories through their craft, Kelly has managed to connect places and evoke journeys by blending traditional crafts with new artistic techniques.
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