Since 1993 Michael Kenna has visited Calais many times and wandered at length throughout the town, photographing its urban landscapes and its proud industrious heart: the lace factories. On his first visit he met Annette Haudiquet, then head curator of the Musee des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle. It was during this meeting that the idea for the book Calais Lace, and the exhibition it accompanies, was born. Pursuing the memories that still haunt the old laceworks of Calais, Michael Kennaâ€™s photographs capture a past deeply ingrained in the life of this town. The artist’s own childhood in a working-class neighbourhood near Liverpool, together with his work on the Lancashire and Yorkshire cotton mills, led him to develop a language specific to a geography of disaster, the poetics of working-class escapism and the outdoors as a refuge.
In Calais Lace, Kenna captures the spirit of this town and marks out the character-traits of a hardworking people. This first Nazraeli Press edition of Calais Lace is limited to 1,000 copies. It opens with an essay by Noel Jouenne, a PhD in social anthropology who shares with us his intimate knowledge of the vocabulary, the names of the sometimes eccentric-looking objects and their uses.