Maggie Hensel-Brown is an emerging Australian artist. In late 2015 she began learning Reticella, a needle lace technique dating from 15th Century Italy. She then studied other ancient lacemaking methods in sewing circles across Italy and England. Her aim is to expose these crafts to a wider audience and to give credit to the people who have been silently working with these masterful techniques for centuries.
Hensel-Brown’s works have incorporated and modernized these crafts, using the tradition of pictorial laceworks to depict contemporary and ordinary life. Her works often depict anger, frustration, loneliness and small moments of joy, each built up from tiny stitches in silk, updating the techniques and bringing them into the 21st century.
Her work can be seen on instagram @maggiehenselbrown
Conveying a narrative through a visual medium comes in many forms, from tapestries to paintings to comic books and graphic novels. Lace making includes many and varied forms of storytelling, both historical and contemporary.
By analyzing and drawing inspiration from history, contemporary artists and lace makers have added to a rich tradition of narrative-based works.
Looking at examples from history, such as the Judith and Holofernes panel housed at the Powerhouse Museum, alongside contemporary artists and lace makers including Penny Nickels and E.J. Parkes, as well as my own explorations in storytelling with needle lace become links in the story.