This necklace was designed and made by Lenka Suchanek in 2010. Now based in Canada, Suchanek is a lace artist who first learned to make lace in her native Czech Republic, a country renowned for its contemporary lace design. Her work has been informed and refined by the study of historical lace techniques as well as patterns in publications and museum collections around Europe. A winner of many prestigious prizes in Europe, Canada, Czech Republic, Spain and Italy, she was a finalist in the 2001 Powerhouse Museum Lace for Fashion Award. This necklace, together with another work, a bobbin lace panel 'Are we made of lace?' represented Suchanek in the Love Lace exhibition of finalists of the 2011 Powerhouse Museum International Lace Award.
Wire bobbin lace, the medium used to make the 'Chantilly necklace' is Suchanek's particular strength. The title of the work refers to Chantilly lace, the finest silk bobbin lace originating in northern France and prized in Europe particularly from the 18th century. Suchanek writes about the necklace: ' I fell in love with Chantilly lace at first sight. I love its irregular free flowing pattern and shading of fine black silk. I love the feminine beauty and sensuality of the designs. In my own work, Chantilly lace continues to be the most difficult technique. The traditional patterns were designed for extremely fine silk, and it is a true challenge to adapt them for metalwork. The bee design was inspired by the Alencon lace commissioned by Emperor Napoleon I on the occasion of his marriage to Marie Louise in 1810. It featured the golden bee, one of the emblems of France'.* Napoleon I encouraged and sponsored the revival of Chantilly lace under his reign when it became again a highly profitable industry in France.
*(artist statement published in 'Love Lace, Powerhouse International Lace Award', Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 2011, p 123.).
Eva Czernis-Ryl and Lindie Ward, 2012.