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Sarah Jane Palmer – A Passion for Pattern

Creative Nottingham welcomes guest blog posts from local creatives about their work. Today we have New College Nottingham Artist in Residence, Sarah Jane Palmer, explaining why she has chosen to take up a residency in Nottingham’s prestigious Lace Market. If you would like to contribute, write to us (editor AT or comment on this post. Now over to Sarah:

Photograph: David Mirzoeff
Courtesy of NCN

It seems a slight juxtaposition to be blogging about my latest residency, which focuses on the history of the Lace Market more than 100 years ago, but as I am merging together traditional art forms with new technology, it seems an apt way to introduce you to my project.

I’ve taken up a year’s residency with New College Nottingham, at their Lace Market Gallery, where I’ll be delving into the depths of time to seek out hidden treasures, using the here and now to revisit the gone, but not forgotten.

The project will involve working with people once connected to the Nottingham lace making industry, students studying in the area and the community surrounding the new cultural industries quarter. My research will culminate in a range of pieces at my first ever solo show at New College Nottingham’s Lace Market Gallery.

I’ve found myself in Nottingham’s Lace Market, as during my latest studies, I discovered that my great-great grandfather Mr John Griffiths, was a Nottingham Lace Designer and his brother was a draughtsman. This was a revelation for me, and I have since set about trying to find out as much as I possibly can about the areas that they worked in and the art that they produced in order to build on my pieces and integrate the ‘family skill’ into my work.

Having such strong family connections has somewhat explained my passion for pattern, an integral part of my art practice, which includes designing and hand printing wallpapers for installations and film based work.

It’s amazing how different patterns can be drawn upon, both through history and through actual art-work, I often get immersed in how things look from one angle and then if you glance at them again they can look completely different. I guess that’s why I’m finding the Lace Market an ideal base, not only is its history so vital to my project, but it can change on a daily basis, giving me new ideas to explore.

I’m focused on the importance of developing skills and the hand made, which has made my base in the Lace Market, where handmade lace first made its mark, all the more poignant. The place is laced with history – if you’ll pardon the pun, and the more I learn about the area, the more I understand how important it was to this city. I’d love to talk to anyone who has been involved with Nottingham lace or who has a connection with its history, please do feel free to get in touch.

I am particularly interested in the immersive experience of developing patterns, animations and illusions, which has lead me to Stoney Street, the same street on which Mr John Griffiths designed patterns over 100 years ago.

I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead, which begins with a launch on Thursday 31 October from 12-1:30pm at ncn Adams Building, Room D154. You can book onto the launch via to find out more about me you can visit my website at to find out more about the Lace Market Gallery, which I will be based visit the ncn website.