The Daily Herald writes that an extensive collection of antique lacework is on display this month at the Windwardside cottage of René Caderius van Veen, above Juliana’s Hotel. The exhibit is open daily, except Mondays, from 3:00 to 6:00pm, and by request. It features more than 150 pieces of handmade lace from 1850 through the 1930s, and follows a series of similar exhibitions of antique Dutch tiles and books. The collection was gathered by the host’s late aunt, Henriette Renée Caderius van Veen (1909-1941), and includes pieces made by her mother, Nia Caderius van Veen-Steenhoff (1888-1991), and her grandmother, and Johanna Steenhoff-van der Feen (1856-1917). The collection had been in storage since 1941, when the original collector died, and was only unveiled in 2011 in Saba, where its heir, René Caderius van Veen, settled.
A first lace exhibit was hosted in July 2012 in the owner’s residence when he first invited the “Saba Lace Ladies” group to join. At the time, venerable matron of the Saba lace tradition Helen Peterson joined the invitation and displayed her work.
The Saba Lace Ladies visited the exhibit Thursday, graciously accepting Caderius van Veen’s invitation for tea and sweets in his garden, and chatted about the preservation of the unique Saba lace craft. Caderius van Veen treated his visitors to a wellresearched presentation of the craft’s history in Europe. With Peterson now in the Old Age Home, it was up to Island Governor Jonathan Johnson’s mother, Angela Johnson, to bring the women together for this event. She was elated to see the presentation of antique lace gathered from all over the world. She pointed to all the items painstakingly identified and discussed with the rest of the group about making use of the various models for inspiration in their own work. “It is very interesting to see the older pieces, especially the rich lace collars still worn in the late 1950s and 1960s. There is so much to look at in this collection,” said Judy Bobel.
Passionate Saba lace maker Alma Peggy Barnes said she hoped to see more of the local work in future exhibits. Doreen Gordon reminded that Saba’s tradition is an outgrowth of “Spanish work and drawn thread work.” Joyce McCoy, who has been involved in researching Saba lace for years, is optimistic about the craft, saying United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) considers handwork as a unique heritage, distinguishably attributable to the culture of various people, just like architectural monuments. Several local and American researchers are looking into getting Saba lace classified as a UNESCO project.
At the garden, guests were treated to Chinese tea, sweets and thoughts of future efforts to promote the craft.