Lace panel by Cecilia Heffer
This lace panel is an important work by Sydney artist Cecilia Heffer, which not only exemplifies her work as a textile designer but also illustrates a collaboration between her and the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales on an important Government House project.
Heffer was one of several Australian craftspeople from many disciplines commissioned by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales to create a new interior for Sydney's Government House drawing room refurbishment project. For Heffer's lace curtains, 120 metres of lace was made on a computerised 100 year old Nottingham Lace loom in Scotland. The design of the curtains depicts Australian native wildflowers, banksias, flannel flowers, grevillias, and pays homage to early Sydney botanical illustrators, in particular the Scott Sisters, and to the Sydney Botanic Gardens where Sydney's Government House is situated. Heffer worked with the Gardens' herbarium and library to develop the motifs in her lace. A continuous theme from the beginning in her work has been the layering of graphic motifs to create depth in her textiles. Manipulating negative spaces, the key to good lace design, is extremely important in her textile work.
Heffer originally studied painting and textiles at the National Art School, Sydney, then in Spain. She gained a postgraduate diploma and masters in textiles at St Martin's in London. Cecilia Heffer has worked as a textile designer in London for Timney Fowler and for textile studios in New York. Her designs were retailed for Liberty, Jaeger and Calvin Klein. She worked for three years printing fashion textiles in Sydney.
First inspired to work with lace by her visits to the Powerhouse Museum's Lace Study Centre, Heffer began to create contemporary lace designs for interior display pieces. Mentoring with Rosemary Shepherd, former lace specialist at the Museum, Heffer recognised the mathematical skills required to make lace and found traditional lace-making not her forte. The inspiration for her recent work was however gained from early bobbin lace pattern books from the 1550s in the Powerhouse Museum Library. Heffer used the early woodcut prints and reversed the images; she also looked at early 19th Century machine embroidered lace. Heffer creates lace using digital technology and industrial processes instead of hand knotting. 'Lace has all the elements in one - weaving, knitting, embroidery, patterning, abstraction.' Her work 'falls between design and art'. This work was made between September and November 2007 and was displayed at the lace catalogue launch at the UTS, DAB LAB on November 1st. The Australian flora pattern printed onto the organza is the lace design used for the machine lace for Sydney's Government House curtains.