Lace: the art of adornment – exhibition review

After seeing a couple of tempting snaps on Instagram, I decided to visit the lace exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The exhibition draws on the Gallery’s collection of bobbin and needle laces spanning over four hundred years, mixing it with historical paintings and modern couture dresses. Although the display only fills up one room, there is a delightful mixture of things to look at and enjoy.

This stunning couture gown designed by Paul Vasileff, of Paolo Sebastian was bang on trend for me. I loved seeing the dresses on open display, without the detraction of a glass case. They certainly brought to mind the royal wedding dress worn by a certain fellow St. Andrews’ graduate. You can’t escape the fact that Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress has placed lace firmly in the fashion spotlight.

The exhibition is packed full of beautifully intricate collars, cravats, cuffs and veils. My curatorial eye was particularly impressed by the flawless mounting of these difficult objects. Slips of fragile lace hover on purpose-built mounts and float at the back of the cases.

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A wall of historical portraits bring the lace garments to life, showing the how they were worn by both women and men.

Historical portraits on display in the lace exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia

Apart from the dresses, my other favorite thing on display was this beautiful cream parasol. Such objects evoke a bygone age when ladies promenaded wearing their finest clothes.

I really enjoyed visiting the exhibition, particularly the range of items on display, however I felt the interpretation was slightly scant. Object labels only give the minimal, basic amount of information. Viewers are left to create their own narrative, rather than the curator telling the story. Personally, I would have loved to learn more about the people who owned these objects and how they were created. However, it’s still worth navigating your way to the basement of the Gallery to examine these beautiful objects for yourself. I’d be delighted to hear what you think of the exhibition. Just leave a comment below or tweet me @amyldale.

Bye for now…

Sign off






Showing until February 2015 at Art Gallery of South Australia, Gallery 19A 

Free admission 

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