Dragnets Spell
Tom Dale

Dragnets Spell with Tom Dale is the third installment of Common Ground 2016–17.

Common Ground is Milton Keynes Arts Centre’s community participation and artist development programme supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Offering a twelve-month season of distinct projects, each presenting high quality and meaningful opportunities for engagement between a diverse spectrum of artists and communities living in Milton Keynes.

See below for more details.

October 2016 – January 2017

Dragnet’s Spell, a new work by Tom Dale, commissioned in Milton Keynes Arts Centre’s Common Ground programme, explores early manufacturing of lace through the relationships and networks of those who gathered to weave, socialise and share news; pre-dating the printing press to become an earlier form of information storage and sharing.

The abilities to broadcast, separate, decorate, protect or curse are embodied in all fabric through processes of production, and none more explicitly than in the production of lace.

Whether made by hand or machine, lace inevitably contains within it a kind of text, code or magic from the moment of its production.

Working in collaboration with Bradwell Abbey Lacemakers, Dale seeks to explore the intrinsic power of lace to communicate; from the dreamcatchers of Native American Indians, to the use of looms and jacquards as primitive computers, Dale draws parallels between storytelling, programming and the development of early artificial intelligence.

Combining examples of classic lace designs from around the world, united with the bespoke motifs of Bradwell Abbey Lacemakers, Dale’s large-scale sculpture looks to portray the heritage of lace, knowledge and technology implanted in its production. Making lace by hand is an immensely satisfying and contemplative process, which has been erased by modern manufacturing techniques, leading to its industrialisation.

“The promise of liberation through efficient production, seems in the case of lace making, as with many other areas of knowledge making, a bewitching but perhaps un-fulling spell.”
Tom Dale


Tom Dale (b. 1974 Kendal) explores ideas around the preposterous and absurd, using sculptures and film to make explicit the inherent contradictions of the grand gestures of culture and society.

Further reading
Dale studied Sculpture at Sheffield Hallam University (1997) and an MFA at Goldsmiths (2007). He was a doctoral researcher at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge from 2009 – 2013. His solo exhibitions include Black Attols, NIMAC, Nicosia, Cyprus (2015-2016), Department of the Interior, Copperfield, London (2014), Terminal Blue, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2014), Zero is Immense, Aid & Abet, Cambridge (2013), Arnolfini & Art in the Public Realm permanent sculpture commission, Bristol (2013)  Formal Pleasure, CAN, Neuchatel, Switzerland (2012) Memorial Drag Strip, Poppy Sebire Gallery, London  (2011), Shot Through, IFC Cinema, New York (2010), Six Flags, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2008), Back Seat Driver, City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (2007)
Group exhibitions include Trio Biennale, Rio, Brazil (2015), Take You There Radio, Magasin Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble (2015) The Written City, Bruges Triennial (2015), L’Hospice des Mille-Cuisses, CAN, Neuchatel, Switzerland (2015), The Art of Pop Video, FACT, Liverpool  (2013), Curator's Egg Altera Pars, Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London (2012), The Art of Pop Video, Museum of Applied Arts, Cologne (2011), UR-NOW: The Ruins of the Contemporary, Whitstable Biennale (2010), Deceitful Moon, Hayward Gallery London (2009), Videonale 12, Kunst Museum, Bonn (2009),  13+, Florence Llynch gallery, New York (2008), Reckless Behaviour, The Getty Museum, L.A. (2006)


Exhibition, Events, Workshops and Professional Development
from Dragnets Spell with Tom Dale

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