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The Black Veil

Celebrating Catterntide is Showcasing Our City's Rich Lace History

19 November 19 words: LeftLion
photos: Reece Straw

Nottingham has a huge history, and lace weaves into a big part of that... 

The next festival that’s hitting the streets of Notts is Celebrating Catterntide. Catterntide has nothing to do with cats - in fact, it has everything to do with spinners, lace, and all that jazz. The festival is a one-day free shebang that commemorates the long-forgotten ‘Catterntide Day’; an annual celebration of St Catherine, the patron saint of those who can spin and weave materials.

It also remembers Catherine of Aragon - aka Henry’s the 8th’s first wife - whom whilst imprisoned, when hearing of the money problems of struggling English lace makers, destroyed all of her lace only to snag some more in order to give work to the local industry.

Supported by a grant of £10,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Nottingham-based charity UK Young Artists (UKYA), along with Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Lace Archive and Backlit Gallery (fun fact: it’s a former textile factory) will host a mega load of activities to educate people on the importance of this fantabulous archive and Nottingham’s social history.

During the day you can nosh on some traditional ‘Cattern cake’, also known as ‘Catherine Cakes’ after Catherine of Aragon, historically made by Nottingham lacemakers for the festivities. The recipe naturally goes back to Tudor times, and has changed little. It’s flavoured with cinnamon and caraway seeds, so you know it’s gonna taste festive.

There will be activities all over the city to get those spinning wheels in yer head whirring. At NTU’s Bonington Building, you’ll be able to learn about the history of lace as an industry and art form through talks, workshops, storytelling. You’ll also be able to feast yer peepers on NTU’s renowned Lace Archive, which features over 75,000 pieces of lace.

At Backlit Gallery, you can learn all about the creative process of lace making and explore new techniques and applications of lace. From jewellery making to a piano made of lace, there’s something for the whole crew to enjoy.

UK Young Artists, which is based in the East Midlands, has had a brilliant 12 months. Earlier this year they brought 250 artists to the city for the UKYA City Takeover - a week-long festival celebrating the talent of young artists, musicians, dancers and performers. In October, they awarded the ‘Robert Walters Group UK Young Artist of the Year’ at a prestigious awards ceremony at London’s Saatchi Gallery. Second prize winner Camilla Hanney (pictured) will be exhibiting her interactive ‘Keeping Cattern with Pattern’ at Celebrating Catterntide, inviting visitors to help create a lace carpet made from icing sugar stenciled through lace samples.

Celebrating Catterntide takes place on Saturday 23 November at Backlit Gallery and Nottingham Trent University’s Bonington Building. All activities are free and drop-in, except for the NTU Lace Archive Tours, which are free but require booking due to the small number of people able to access and enjoy the archive.

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