Fibre treasures in big basket display

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Leonie Lucey, ‘Praying Mantis,’ Street sweeper metal brushes, Watsonia, cordyline, kangaroo paw string, paper cord, palm leaf sheath, driftwood drawing pins and fixative.

Craft / “From Plant to Basket”, Australian National Botanic Gardens until June 30. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE

NEARLY 40 baskets are being exhibited by 12 members of the Fibre Basket Makers of the ACT in this exhibition, which includes functional baskets and sculptural works.

Using many natural materials collected around the country, several artists have incorporated other materials.

Baskets have been made in Australia by indigenous women and men for centuries, and by non-indigenous since European settlement. They can be used to hold personal and important belongings and to hold food.

They can be made using numerous techniques: coiling, twining, plaiting, knitting and looping. Almost any material can be used to create a basket – metal, plant fibres, textiles and anything that can be bent or folded. The variety is shown in Gabrielle Powell’s baskets – “Industry versus Nature I, II and III”, which use venetian blinds, and leaves from three different plants.

Adrienne Nicholson. ‘Basket Tree,’ Native plant species.

A variety of basket techniques can be seen in Adrienne Nicholson’s “Basket Tree”. Several miniatures baskets hanging from a branch – like Christmas baubles – show a variety of styles, native plant materials and basket designs. Weaving or twining miniatures is difficult and these treasures are all beautifully made.

Many of the exhibitors are showing works with embellishments, such as lights and bull kelp in Catalogue No. 10, “Night Delight”, and shells, glass and bones, in several pieces hanging from the ceiling by Christiane Keller. As is often the case, less is more, and the simplicity and honesty of the techniques and materials are generally all that is needed to create a work of art.

Several artists give details of the materials and techniques they have used, and this informs the viewer. The exhibition is interesting as it includes such a range of techniques and materials.

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