Saturday 24 July 2010

Where did all the doilies go long time passing?

Back in the day, it would never do to have anything touching anything else without the discrete and decorative interposition of a doily. On chairs, doilies for humans were called antimacassars and arm covers. It was as well for Doily, a 17th century draper, that he had probably no inkling of how he would go down in history. He certainly would have abhored one of the houses I rented as a student which was infested with plastic doilies on every surface and which upon gaining possession of the key and locking the door behind me I rounded up and consigned to the back of the airing cupboard. As a child my life was doiley ridden, whether crocheted, knitted or steel cut from paper. I spent many happy holiday hours colouring white paper doileys begged from my mother's baking drawer, creating my own multi-coloured medallions to decorate my walls. And then, suddenly doilies seemed to vanish from our lives, and I could never quite picture drawers or attics large enough for their retirement. Where did they all go? Well, here are some of them.

These creations are by Joana Vasconcelos, the eminent Portuguese artist, for her I Will Survive exhibition. I Will Survive - taken from the tune made popular by Gloria Gaynor in 1978 - challenge traditional ideas surrounding identity. Finding her inspiration in the popular imagination and examining various themes of daily life, Vasconcelos focuses on the politics of gender, national identity and class. And her work is on display at The Haunch of Venison from 21 July until 25 September.

WHERE? In London, I once worked from offices in Pall Mall which meant when there was not a working lunch I was just 10 minutes walk away from the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Queen's Gallery, the London Library, the Royal Academy of Arts....and a place I loved greatly, the Museum of Mankind which you found by walking through the wonderful Burlington Arcade from Picadilly and turning right towards Saville Row to Burlington Gardens. Not only did I love the textiles there, but also the fact that it had the best and quietest bookshop and coffee bar. Sadly the Museum of Mankind, an outpost of the British Museum was reabsorbed by the BM and for a while there was nothing in its place until the location became the venue for a number of commercial art galleries, of which The Haunch of Venison is now one