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
1987 - BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting, Norwich School of Art, Norwich
1984 - Foundation Art & Design, Maidstone College of Art

Solo Exhibitions

2021 - Lace in Fashion, Museum Intervention, Wardown House Museum, Luton, Bedfordshire
2019 - Tree of Life, Museum Intervention, Killerton House National Trust, Exeter, Devon
2017 - Dentelle et Mode, Museum Intervention, Museum of Lace & Fashion, Calais, France
2014 - Drawing Museum Lace, Salisbury Museum, Wiltshire
2014 - Drawing Museum Lace, Bexhill Museum, East Sussex
2013 - Drawing Museum Lace, Somerset Museum of Rural Life, Glastonbury, Somerset
2009 - Drawing Lace, Worthing Museum & Art Gallery, Worthing, West Sussex
2008 - Drawing Lace, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon

Group Exhibitions

2023 - Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize, London & UK Tour  
2023 - Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Drawing Prize, RBSA, West Midlands 
2023 - Tailored, Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley, West Yorkshire
2023 - Sussex by Sea, St Mary De Haura Church, Shoreham by Sea, West Sussex
2022 - Essence, 62 Group @60, Alexandra Palace, London
2022 - Essence, 62 Group @60, Harrogate Convention Centre, Harrogate
2021 - Connected Cloth, British Textile Biennial, The Whitaker, Lancashire
2021 - Warp Weft Stitch Thread, Gallery 57, Arundel, West Sussex                                                      
2020 - Conversations, St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery, Lymington, Hampshire
2020 - Lost in Lace, Western Exhibition Hall, Ningbo Museum, Ningbo, China
2020 - Lost in Lace, Jiangning Imperial Silk Manufacturing Museum, Nanjung, China
2019 - Body Works, Studio 93a, Brighton Artists Open Houses, Brighton, East Sussex
2017 - Red-Fabrica Peer Group, The Grange, Rottingdean, East Sussex
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 Contemporary Art, Notting Hill, London
2013 - IntoLACE, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devon
2012 - East Sussex Open, Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, East Sussex
2012 - Lace Works: Contemporary Art & Nottingham Lace, Nottingham 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, K.Montgomery/T.Whitfield, St. Anne's Galleries, Lewes, East Sussex
2008 - HQ Gallery, New Work, Harrogate Art Fair, Harrogate
2008 – HQ Gallery, New Work, Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, 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


2023 – Pens & Pencils, Ruth Millington, Birmingham Post (19/9/23)                                            
2022 - Significant Figures, Stephanie Bunn, Selvedge Magazine, 105 (pp30-33)
2020 - Drawn to Lace, Ellen Bell, Embroidery Magazine, May/June (pp38-43)
2020 - Lost in Lace, Lace & Lace Making in China, Ningbo Museum, China (YouTube)
2019 - Blue Lace, Jessica Edney, Selvedge Magazine, (09/02/19 blog)
2018 - Lace: a Treasure of Inspiration, Nottingham City Museums & Galleries (film)
2015 - Pilot Project Album, Victoria & Albert Museum Research Institute
2014 - The Visual View, Teresa Whitfield, The North, Spring (pp90-91) 
2013 - Lace Here Now, Amanda Briggs-Good, Black Dog Publishing
2012 - Lace Here Now, Elyse Allen, Selvedge Magazine, Nov/Dec, (pp90-91)
2012 - Lace Here Now, Jo Hall, Embroidery Magazine, Nov/Dec (pp8-9)
2012 - Developing the Art of Midwifery, T.Whitfield & J.Hassall, MIDIRS, September (pp32-37)
2010 - Drawing Lace, Teresa Whitfield, Lace Magazine, April (pp14-17)
2009 - Drawing Threads, Teresa Whitfield, Embroidery Magazine, Jan/Feb (pp 16-17)
2009 - Embroidered with White, Teresa Whitfield, Selvedge Magazine, Jul/Aug (p84)
2008 - Long and Drawn Out, Beth Smith, Selvedge Magazine, Nov/Dec (pp48-51)

Prizes, Awards & Membership

2023 - First Prize, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Drawing Prize, Birmingham
2019 - Membership of the 62 Group of Textile Artists
2018 - Research & Scholarly Activity Award, Northbrook College, West Sussex
2013 - Grants for the Arts Award, Arts Council England
2009 - Artist in Residence, John Grade Elephant Bed, Fabrica, Brighton
2008 - Award for Excellence in Teaching & Learning, University of Brighton
2006 - Teaching Fellowship, Learn Higher CETL, University of Brighton
2002 - Artist in Residence, Brisons Veor, St Just, Cornwall
2002 - Major Award, Arts Council Southern and Southeast
2002 - Research & Scholarly Activity Grant, Northbrook College, West Sussex
2002 - Advanced Practitioner Award, Northbrook College, West Sussex
1994 - Project Award, Yorkshire and Humberside Arts
1987 - Pullen Prize for Painting, Norwich School of Art

Conference Papers / Talks / Panels

2023 - Artist Slide Talk, Bromley Embroiderers, Bromley, Kent
2022 - Artist Slide Talk, West Sussex Art Society, Worthing, West Sussex
2019 - Artist Slide Talk, MA Fine Art, University of Chichester, West Sussex
2017 - Artist Slide Talk, Martlets Lacemakers, Horsham, West Sussex
2017 - External Panel Member, MA Drawing Revalidation, Wimbledon College of Art
2016 - Teaching exchange with Shirley Chubb, MA Fine Art, Chichester University                       
2015 - Teaching exchange with Tania Kovats, MA Drawing, Wimbledon College of Art               
2015 - Re-Considering Historical Lace, Envisioning Lace Study Day, Oxford University Ashmolean Museum
2015 - Re-Considering Historical Lace, Weaving: Making & Thinking, V&A Museum Research Institute VARI, London
2015 - Artist Slide Talk, West Sussex Art Society, Worthing, West Sussex
2014 - Artist Slide Talk, Drawing in Focus Study Day, Fabrica, Brighton
2014 - Re-Considering Historical Lace, DATS Conference, V&A Museum
2014 - Pallant House Interventions, Learning & Teaching Conference, Brighton University
2014 - Artist Slide Talk, MA Fine Art, Chichester University, West Sussex
2014 - Artist Slide Talk, Seawhite Studios, Partridge Green, West Sussex
2012 - Interpretations of Historical Lace, Lace: Heritage & Contemporary Textile Practice Conference, Nottingham Trent University


1996 - current Course Leader BA(Hons) Fine Art, Northbrook College, West Sussex
2001 - 2018   PGCE Course Mentor, Northbrook College, West Sussex