The Charnia LaceLightBox Collection

It occurred to me that you may not know what my final collection looks like, or how it all hangs together.

Four colourful lightboxes hang on a gallery wall
The four Charnia LaceLightBoxes hang together to tell the story of Tina Negus

The Charnia LaceLightBox collection was completed in 2020 and is so far unseen in real-life by the general public (2021). It takes my lace designs from the domestic to a gallery setting. I shifted the emphasis from a ‘delight in delicacy’ to using strong forms, removing the textile from view, and yet revealing the effect through shadow play. The engraved LaceLightBoxes contain embroidered and laser-cut lace lit by colour-changing LEDs.

Fascinated by history, I explore new ideas. For example, I am using text as a picot edging to the lace – a relatively unexplored technique in traditional lace-making. The story told with this collection is of a world-changing discovery made by a young girl in the 1950s who went uncredited for decades.

A picture of Jayne Childs next to a wall mounted lightbox Charnia 1
Charnia 1

The collection comprises four craftsman-made boxes, 3 of which are lit using coloured LEDs, creating an ever-changing display. The contents of unlit box 4 are entirely visible like a museum cabinet, giving clues as to what is included within the other boxes. The collection uses lace, embroidery on net, laser-cutting and engraving, and found objects to communicate the story behind the Charnia fossil discovery. Recycling instructions and snippets of the narrative are laser-engraved onto the 2nd box exterior.

Charnia 4

I chose to push beyond the usual delicate forms usually associated with lace by using other materials such as hardboard, Perspex and phosphorescent materials. Laser-cutting seemed a natural choice, however took much experimentation to create designs which remained intact once cut, as they do when created in textile. I developed designs for laser-engraving onto the front of the box, to ‘glitch’ the light and shadow, revealing and concealing the design. Materials are chosen using my own sustainability framework, evaluating the internal/external impacts of the work. You can find the findings on this website.

The work aims to give voice to Tina Negus’ discovery of Charnia Masoni, which was uncredited for decades, and wider experiences of women and girls not believed.

framed lacelightbox
Charnia 3. I love this flame-orange part of the light colour sequence

Charnia 1: 1425x950x175mm

Birchwood box, laser-engraved Perspex front, colour-changing LED lights, cotton bobbinet embroidered with text, laser-cut mountboard ‘lace’.

Charnia 1 is the largest of the four LaceLightBoxes. It contains a laser-cut Charnia lace motif which fills the frame and is mounted approximately 40mm from the LED light strips using upholstery T pins. A panel of cotton bobbinet. embroidered with the phrase ‘She found and interesting thing and took it to her teacher, who said ‘Don’t be silly we have already decided that isn’t possible so it can’t be true’.’ A smaller version of Charnia laser lace stands in the lower left corner. The frosted perspex front panel is laser engraved in the lower right corner with a section of the Charnia lace motif.

Charnia 2: 710x475x175mm

Laser-engraved Birchwood box, laser-engraved Perspex front, static white LED lights, laser-cut card ‘lace’.

Charnia 2 is laser-engraved on each face with pattern and detail from the Charnia motif and narrative. The reverse of the frame has a request to recycle and contact details for the artist. Inside, static white LEDs cast a shadow of the blue laser lace Charnia suspended in front. When the lights are turned off the frosted Perspex front panel obscures but does not completely hide the motif.

Charnia 3: 310x475x175mm

Birchwood box, laser-engraved Perspex front, colour-changing LED lights, cotton bobbinet embroidered with text, laser-cut mountboard ‘lace’, hanging machine embroidered lace motifs.

Charnia 3 contains a panel of cotton bobbinet. embroidered with the phrase ‘She found an interesting thing’ used in Charnia 1, along with a larger cursive word ‘Charnia’. A machine embroidered Charnia lace motif is suspended to the left hand side. The frosted Perspex front panel is laser engraved with a fern lace design. The box is lit using colour-changing LED light strips.

Charnia 4: 475x310x75mm

Birchwood box, clear Perspex front, found objects, resin Charnia fossil replica, machine embroidered lace motifs, laser-cut mountboard ‘lace’.

Charnia 4 is the only LaceBox which is unlit. It contains a sectional laser-cut Charnia lace motif which fills the frame and is mounted at varying depths using upholstery T-pins. A replica of the Charnia Masoni fossil fills the lower right corner and a number of embroidered Charnia lace motifs and thread samples are suspended or attached to the background using T pins. The clear Perspex front panel allows a clear view of the objects inside.

Each box attaches to the wall using French cleat system and are constructed in such a way that the front panels slide out from the top edge.