An image of Women who toiled

Women's Domestic Needlework Group, Sydney

(Australia  – )

Marie McMahon

(Australia 1953 – )

Frances Phoenix

(Australia 1950 – 2017)

Women who toiled, from The D'Oyley Show

Location
Not on display
Further information

The cottage industry of bobbin lacemaking, which began in Italy in the 1500s, had a long history of exploitation, including slavery, throughout Europe from the 1600s onwards. Women who held 'lace secrets' were often abducted and forced to work in wretched conditions and seldom lived beyond 30. Some European governments set up schools, forcing young girls from five to 16 to work for meagre wages, until the French banned the practice due to its association with the aristocracy during the French Revolution.

'Women who toiled' depicts lacemakers at work, hemmed in by the result of their labour. It compels the viewer to see beyond the beauty of exquisitely-worked lace, and understand the chequered history of this most genteel of arts.

Year
1979
Media
Print
Medium
colour screenprint on thin white wove paper
Dimensions
72.8 x 48.0 cm image; 79.1 x 51.3 cm sheet
Credit
Purchased 1981
Accession number
175.1981.1
Copyright
© Marie McMahon and Frances (Budden) Phoenix with the Women's Domestic Needlework Group