A NEW exhibition highlighting the intricacies of Downton Lace is opening at Salisbury Museum next month.

Teresa Whitfield’s intricate white ink drawings of historic lace are so realistic they look like the real thing.

Characterised by a close resemblance to real fabric, Whitfield’s drawings reference a time before the Industrial Revolution, when hand-made textiles were part of everyday domestic life for women.

Her work explores the demise of the hand-made lace industry and challenges preconceived ideas about lace.

Opening on September 13, Drawing Museum Lace: An Unexpected Look, is the outcome of two years’ research by Whitfield into the Downton Lace collection at The Salisbury Museum.

The exhibition is sponsored by The Arts Council. The Downton Lace collection represents a once-thriving industry that has now all but vanished.

In 1700, records show that more than 1,000 lace-makers worked in Salisbury – 15 per cent of its population.

Just over 200 years later, with the survival of the specialised craft threatened by modern advancement, two local women formed the Old Downton Lace Industry.

For 56 years, they kept it alive through their skill and passion. A memo sent to its members in March 1966 noted that: ‘Owing to a complete change in social conditions, lace making can no longer afford a livelihood’. The lace, records and equipment was given to Salisbury Museum and now forms a significant part of the museum’s textile collection. Whitfield’s work underpins this story.

By using a low-tech labour-intensive process such as drawing, she prompts discussion about the loss of craft skills in a digital age.

Her drawings will be displayed alongside the items from the Downton Lace collection that inspired them.