Approved: 13.04.2010

Teresa Whitfield

Artist, Lecturer / academic

Approved: 13.04.2010

Characterised by a close resemblance to real fabric my highly detailed ink drawings reference a time before the industrial revolution, when hand-made textiles were part of everyday domestic life for women.

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Artist Statement

Characterised by a close resemblance to real fabric my highly detailed ink drawings reference a time before the industrial revolution, when hand-made textiles were part of everyday domestic life for women.

My fascination with lace was instigated by the recognition of a close similarity between lace and line drawing; in early hand-made lace, the threads have been woven in miniature by the use of bobbins and are all visible on a flat two-dimensional surface exactly like a drawn line.  In my drawings, items of lace are painstakingly reconstructed in black, white or coloured ink, an activity which both negates technology and embraces the imperfections inherent in the hand-made objects to which the drawings refer

The slow, meticulous, intensely meditative reproduction of the fabric where lengths of thread are replaced by lines of ink is so close to the process of using thread that the images are more a re-enactment of the lace-making process, than simply a likeness to the end product, and so true-to-life are the images that tiny strands appear to intersect each other, recording the miniscule defects in the fabric and the way the threads interweave.  The forensic level of realism in my work often confuses the viewer as to whether they are contemplating a real piece of fabric or a photograph; the drawings occupy an unusual space between the drawing of an object and the recreation of it in a different medium.

I am interested in exploring through my work what the lace-making process tells us about the social history of women.  The deceptive simplicity of the detailed, repetitive mark-making of the drawing provokes memories of a time before mass production, when hand-made textiles were part of everyday domestic life.  Not only do my drawings highlight the demise of the hand-made lace industry, but more importantly by using a low-tech labour-intensive process such as drawing my work prompts discussion about the loss of craft skills in a digital and mechanical age and provides audiences with a visual understanding of the impact of these changes.

My work has involved research in the archives at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Calais Museum of Lace and Fashion, National Trust Killerton House, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter , Bronte Parsonage Museum , Fashion Museum, Bath and Salisbury Museum each resulting in drawings that commemorate a once thriving industry and engage the viewer in a dialogue about the social and cultural changes that the loss of this extraordinary craft represents;  the drawings encourage the viewer to take a closer look at lace and to reconsider its method of production, they bring it alive in the present in a way that modern audiences can appreciate and relate to.

CV & Education

Qualifications and Training

1997 - MA Fine Art Drawing, Wimbledon School of Art, London
1995 - PGCE Art & Design, University of Brighton, Brighton
1987 - BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting, Norwich School of Art, Norwich
1984 – Foundation Art & Design, Maidstone College of Art

Solo Exhibitions

2019 - Factory Lace & Fashion, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter
2019 - Factory Lace & Fashion, National Trust Killerton House, Exeter
2017 - Factory Lace & Fashion, Museum of Lace & Fashion, Calais, France
2014 - Drawing Museum Lace, The Salisbury Museum
2014 - Drawing Museum Lace, Bexhill Museum
2013 - Drawing Museum Lace, Somerset Museum of Rural Life
2009 - Drawing Lace, Worthing Museum & Art Gallery, Worthing, West Sussex
2008 - Drawing Lace, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon

Group Exhibitions

2019 - Body Works, Studio 93a, Brighton Artists Open Houses
2017 - Red-Fabrica Peer Group, The Grange, Rottingdean
2015 - Lacemakers, The Stables Gallery, Twickenham, Middlesex
2015 - Mixed Spring Show, Kevis House Gallery, Petworth, West Sussex
2014 - Lace Effects, Museum of Lace and Fashion, Calais, France
2014 - Recent Drawings, Wilson, Stephens & Jones Contemporary Art, Notting Hill, London
2013 – IntoLACE, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devon
2012 - East Sussex Open, Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, Sussex
2012 - Lace Works: Contemporary Art & Nottingham Lace, Nottingham Castle Museum
2012 - Wildness Between the Lines, Leeds College of Art, Leeds
2011 – Pulp Fictions, Transition Gallery, London
2009 - Jerwood Drawing Prize, Jerwood Space, London and UK tour
2009 - At Home: New Paintings by Kate Montgomery & Teresa Whitfield, St. Anne's Galleries, Lewes
2008 - HQ Gallery, Harrogate Art Fair and Affordable Art Fair, London
2006 - Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London
2006 - Autumn Exhibition, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
2006 - Islands Lace, Star Gallery, Lewes, East Sussex
2006 – Star Dust, Star Gallery, Lewes, East Sussex
2001 - Drawings by English Artists, The Tolgarden, Melbu, Norway
1999 - Freeze Frame, Millinery Works, London
1999 - Real, Brighton Media Centre, Brighton
1998 - Lost & Found, Decima Gallery, London and Municipal Markets, Brighton
1992 - In Memoriam, General Cemetery, Sheffield
1989 - 90 Days in 89, Graves Gallery & Mappin Gallery, Sheffield
1987 - Women's Pictures, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich


2009 - Artist in Residence, John Grade Elephant Bed, Fabrica, Brighton
2002 - Artist in Residence, Brisons Veor, St Just, Cornwall


2019 - Blue Lace, Selvedge Magazine, Jessica Edney (09/02/19 blog)
2018 - Lace: a Treasure of Inspiration, Nottingham City Museums & Galleries (film)
2015 - Pilot Project Album, Victoria & Albert Museum Research Institute
2013 - Lace Here Now, Amanda Briggs-Good, Black Dog Publishing
2012 - Developing the Art of Midwifery, T.Whitfield & J.Hassall, Midirs Magazine
2010 - Drawing Lace, Teresa Whitfield, Lace Magazine (pp14-17)
2009 - Drawing Threads, Teresa Whitfield, Embroidery Magazine (pp 16-17)
2009 - Embroidered with White, Teresa Whitfield, Selvedge Magazine (pp48-51)
2008 - Long and Drawn Out, Beth Smith, Selvedge Magazine (pp48-51)

Prizes and Awards

2018 - Research & Scholarly Activity Award, Greater Brighton Metropolitan College
2013 - Grants for the Arts Award, Arts Council England
2008 - Award for Excellence in Teaching & Learning, University of Brighton
2006 - Teaching Fellowship, Learn Higher CETL, University of Brighton
2002 - Major Award, Arts Council Southern and South East
2002 - Research & Scholarly Activity Grant, Northbrook College, Sussex
2002 - Advanced Practitioner Award, Northbrook College, Sussex
1994 - Project Award, Yorkshire and Humberside Arts
1987 – Pullen Prize for Painting, Norwich School of Art

Teaching Experience  

1996 - now   Programme Lead / Course Leader BA (Hons) Fine Art, Greater Brighton MET (formerly Northbrook College)
2001 - now   PGCE Course Mentor, Greater Brighton MET (formerly Northbrook College)

Conference Papers / Lectures / Panel Membership

2017 – External Panel Member, MA Drawing Revalidation, Wimbledon College of Art
2015 - Re-Considering Interpretations of Historical Lace through Hyper-Realist Ink Drawing  Oxford University Envisioning Lace Study Day Ashmolean Museum
2015 – Re-Considering Interpretations of Historical Lace through Hyper-Realist Ink Drawings, Victoria & Albert Museum Research Institute: Weaving – Making & Thinking
2014 – Lace Drawings, slide talk, Drawing in Focus Study Day, Fabrica, Brighton
2014 – Re-Considering Interpretations of Historical Lace through Hyper-Realist Ink Drawings,  Dress & Textile Society Conference, Victoria & Albert Museum
2014 - Pallant House Interventions: Working Site-Specifically with BA Fine Art Students in a Historic House, Learning & Teaching Conference, Brighton University
2014 – Drawing Museum Lace, Visiting Artist, Seawhite Studios, West Sussex
2012 - Interpretations of Historical Lace, Lace: Heritage & Contemporary Textile Practice Conference, Nottingham Trent University