Maggie Hensel Brown – Selfies in Lace


Adventures in Time & Lace

Welcome to Adventures In Time & Lace, where we explore modern thinking in one of the most traditional needlecrafts – lacework!

Have you ever considered making a lace selfie?

Self Portrait at 28. Maggie Hensel-Brown
Self Portrait at 28

Australian artist Maggie Hensel-Brown is taking the painstaking art of needle lace out of the past and using this language to document her daily life in all its quirky details.

In her fun, ironic and sometimes bittersweet creations, Maggie takes this tradition even further and the result is a sort of lace comic strip which is a window on the life and thoughts of the young artist. She says that her “works often depict anger, frustration, loneliness, and small moments of joy, each built up from tiny stitches in silk”.

Seeing Red. Maggie Hensel-Brown
Seeing Red

And that they certainly do! The scenes she creates are things that most of us can relate to; a self-portrait which is really a selfie with iPhone in-hand, or, staring into the fridge “not hungry, just bored” … her ability to capture small but surprisingly meaningful details of her life is what makes these delicate works of art both charming and powerful.

Self Portrait in Quarantine. Maggie Hensel-Brown
Self Portrait in Quarantine

The strength of her work also comes from the curious juxtaposition of what sometimes seem frivolous subjects – such as reading a book during quarantine with her bra strewn beside her because, in quarantine, one doesn’t have to wear a bra (hooray!!) – with a labour intensive technique.

Staring into the void. Not hungry, just bored. Maggie Hensel-Brown
Staring into the void. Not hungry, just bored.

The process of making needle lace is incredibly time consuming but that seems to be part of the attraction for Maggie who says; “the pieces I have been working on are quite tiny, the biggest I’ve done is about hand-size. They all take weeks to complete and there’s something about my personality that just adores that!”

A very short time later... Maggie Hensel-Brown
A very short time later…

To get to know Maggie and her work better you can follow her on Instagram where you will find a whole universe of teeny tiny lace undergarments, iPhones, books, coffee pots and much more…

Angharad Rixon

Angharad Rixon is a technical textile historian specialising in lace and passementerie; her studies in Italy, Switzerland and Spain have led to her skills in a variety of off-loom techniques. Angharad lectures in Milan and Florence and consults for museums and universities around the world. She is the engine behind TextileSupport, the host of the TextileStories podcast and the organizer of Doily Free Zone.

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