8ª Biennial 2007

Cantù, 14th – 28th October 2007

Presentation of the exhibition

The Cantù Biennial, which has now reached the eighth edition organized by the Lace Promotion Committee, continues its commitment to the appreciation and rediscovery of this particular sector of local artistic-craft production, which has been the driving force behind the event since the first exhibition in 1993.

During these years the public has been offered the opportunity to observe and appreciate artefacts never exhibited before, clothing or sacred or profane decoration, which have been created thanks to the technical knowledge and manual skills which have been developed and handed down by generations of Cantù women, from the sixteenth century to today. The aim of the exhibition is thus to highlight the work of lacemakers, propose new laceworks and together rediscover the more ancient treasures, which often are still jealously guarded and hidden in private houses, but which are part of an important cultural heritage.

The necessity of documenting knowledge which for centuries has been handed down only by the lace threads has also shifted attention towards all the phases of lace design and lacemaking using the bobbin technique, starting from design, passing to the choice of stitches and the pricking of “patterns” and thus to their creation on the pillow.

The participation of numerous associations is a sign of the renewed vitality of this art, and the positive approval of the public who consider the Biennial an appointment which is consolidated and looked forward to. This year’s edition has conserved the division into three different sections, the historical exhibition, contemporary production and the competition, but the exhibition spaces have been greatly enlarged. The prestigious site of “Villa Calvi” (early nineteenth century), located in the heart of the city and seat of the Civic Council until last year, in fact offers more than 1,000 spare metres of space in splendid rooms which look out over the large Municipal Park.

Historical Section

The historical section of the exhibition for the eighth Lace Biennial in Cantù continues the research into the use of lace in a sacred context, already examined on the occasion of the 1997 Biennial. This choice, besides coinciding with the celebrations of the thousandth anniversary of the consecration of the Basilica in Galliano is motivated by the very important role which precious handmade lace has kept to this day in liturgical decoration and vestments in the Cantù area. In fact, for centuries the skilful hands of the local lacemakers have been able to create complex lace borders which have been donated to their churches and this habit has remained with time. The Lace Promotion Committee has chosen this time to rediscover and appreciate the lace from the second half of the twentieth century, more recent and therefore not yet fully studied and catalogued. However it includes important and unique works such as the alb donated in 1996 to Pope John Paul II, which will be exhibited alongside many other works not shown before, made in the same period, bearing witness to the endurance in time of an ancient craft specialisation.

Exhibition of lace of contemporary manufacture

Contemporary production is represented by artefacts created in recent years, by individuals, craftswomen, traders, organizations, and associations active in the area. This section illustrates current trends, offering the public of enthusiasts a wide range of artefacts displaying great creativity and manual skill. Where possible the lace is exhibited together with designs on paper, pattern (supporting card) and the artefact itself.

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