LaceLightBox -My MA final project

I’ve just completed the MA in Fashion & Textile Design at Nottingham Trent University. At the time of writing my grades are due in a few days -eek! I thought you’d like to know a little bit more about my final project.

The Project Proposal: To design and make a free-standing illuminated artwork, using lace, laser cut materials and LED lighting. The artwork will include a narrative, telling the story of Tina Negus and the discovery of the Charnia fossil. The work would be designed for gallery exhibition, residential or commercial interior use.

The Narrative: In 1956 a young fossil hunter called Tina Negus visited Charnwood forest and took a rubbing of a fossil she found in the pre-Cambrian rock. In the 1950s we believed that life began in the Cambrian era about 500 million years ago, and before that there weren’t any animals at all. Tina showed the fossil rubbing to her teacher. She was told that she must have got it wrong – the rock is millions of years older than the fossil could possibly be.

A short while later, another young fossil hunter called Roger Mason came across the same piece of rock. The fossil was named Charnia Masoni after him, as it’s finder. Would Tina’s words have been believed if she had been a boy? Would it have been named ‘Charnia Negusi’ had it been found today?

Read the full Tina Negus Charnia story at Trowelblazers

She found an interesting thing
and took it to her teacher
who said
‘Don’t be silly, we have already decided that isn’t possible so it can’t be true’

Display of the Charnia Masoni holotype. ‘First Creatures’ exhibition, Oxford Museum of Natural History February 2020
Design: Charnia Masoni was a pre-cambrian ocean dwelling creature, and although the fossil often reflect a very straight and rigid ovoid ‘leaf’ shape, the creature is likely to have been mobile under the water, not unlike this sea quill.

Design: The motif design is based on a continuous line drawing incorporating both sea quill and charnia elements. Filling patterns for the ‘segments’ are adapted from machine and hand-made samples from the NTU Lace Archive and my personal collection.

Complete ‘Charnia’ designs are embroidered onto net and also water soluble stabiliser to produce freestanding lace motifs. Fringing is added to replicate the soft underwater motion of a sea quill. A handwritten text forms the picot (looped) edge and words become joins or ‘brides’ between smaller motifs.

The finished project: Four wall mounted wooden boxes are lit from within using LED light strips. Hand drawn Charnia and fern-like patterns are laser engraved onto the frosted perspex front. Inside, lace embroidery and laser cut material is suspended in between the perspex and lights, casting shadow. The delicate external patterning is barely seen when the lights are on, as the lights change colour, fade and grow, creating movement from within the box and lace shadows fall and play.

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