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ATU St Angelas TRACtion Team – TRACtion Physical Exhibition – Lace in Context

The TRACtion Ireland Exhibition was held at the Hamilton Gallery in Sligo from 7 to 20 May. It was attended by adult learners who participated in the project workshops during April 2024, their families, friends, members of the University, and the community. The purpose of the exhibition was to showcase and celebrate the outcomes of workshop participants and to continue to stimulate interest in traditional Irish textile techniques.

The event was launched by award-winning Irish fashion designer Natalie B. Coleman. Natalie has received industry accolades such as Tatler Irish Designer, Woman of the Year 2019, and Irish Fashion Designer of the Year in 2019 and 2020. Natalie is from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan, and she incorporates Carrickmacross appliqué lace technique designs in many of her bespoke collections and pieces.

The exhibition was structured around the textile artefacts studied in this project. There were 33 exhibits. The rich heritage of traditional Irish costume designs and embellishments profoundly inspired the exhibited creations. On show were notebooks, paper and fabric prints, free machine-embroidered lace, laser-cut motif designs, crochet and tatted lace designs and jewellery, photography, installation clay pieces, garments, and interactive textiles, including music inspired by a costume motif.

Lace in Context Promotional Video (2.14) Videographer Michael Harran

Exhibition Photos and Pop Interviews

Exhibition opening by Dr Kathryn McSweeney (Project Lead, Ireland)
Dr Kathryn McSweeney and Dr Orla Flynn, ATU President
Vox Pop Interview: Dr Kathryn McSweeney with Dr Orla Flynn, President ATU
Guest speaker, award-winning Fashion Designer Natalie B. Coleman with Dr Kathryn McSweeney
Vox Pop Interview: Dr Kathryn McSweeney and Irish Fashion Designer Natalie B. Coleman
Linda and Molly Kerlin, Workshop participants and exhibitors
Vox Pop Interview: Dr Kathryn McSweeney and Linda Kerlin, workshop participant and exhibitor
Pinwheel Notebook Designs and Tatting Explorations

The pinwheel Irish crochet motif (wedding dress) inspired this musical production. Molly explored lino printing during the workshop and created a musical score by cutting out many pinwheel motifs (musical notes) on a lino sheet. The result is available here:

Vox Pop Interview: Aoife Moriarty with Molly Kerlin

Additionally, Molly examined the tatted edge of the wedding dress collar. She sat with it and recreated the design using a variety of yarns. No pattern was used – Molly visually interpreted the old costume technique. In the finished exhibition product, you will see the tatting stitch worked to various scales.

Wedding dress tatted edge magnified using the Perfect Magnifier Application.
Past and Present by Molly Kerlin

Cassandra Hand introduced the home industry of lace making as part of a Famine Relief Scheme back in 1847 in a town called Clones in County Monaghan. Clones Lace evolved from this time and provided much employment to impoverished families. Clones lace was sold worldwide and was much sought after by royalty.

Dr Kathryn McSweeney and Ann Corley from the Cassandra Hand Centre
Vox Pop Interview: Dr Kathryn McSweeney and Ann Corley from the Cassandra Hand Centre, Monaghan

Laser-cut circles from hospital sheets. The ‘pop’- raised satin stitch embroidery in the wedding dress costume inspired the design.

Rings of Repeat in Outer Space by Kira Guckian Walton
Vox Pop Interview: Dr Kathryn McSweeny and Kira Guckian, workshop participant and exhibitor
Carrickmacross lace guipure technique explorations – Workshop notebook Geraldine Beirne
Vox Pop Interview: Dr Kathryn McSweeney and Geraldine Beirne, workshop participant and exhibitor
Carrickmacross Guipure technique – Carrickmacross lace skirt/slip costume artefact

Joining bars, a traditional Carrickmacross lace method, fill the circle spaces. They were created using free machine embroidery. The circles comprise a free-motion filling stitch.

Flower repeats Geraldine Beirne

Inspired by the embroidered whitework wedding dress stitch (below). Two repeat patterns were combined to create a new pattern in this example. The pattern was stitched with free-motion embroidery on dyed fabric.

Wedding dress embroidered flower motif
2-dimensional illustration by Ana Faye


Please note that written permission from the people in photos was secured for taking and publishing their photographs or images in TRACtion reports and articles.