My new basket 'light and line' has arrived in Newcastle , New South Wales, Australia ready for the new exhibition 'Holding: Contemporary Fibre Art' at the Newcastle City Gallery selected by special guest curator Anne Kempton of Timeless Textiles.
Update 2016.12.07 The exhibition is now up and running and the online catalogue can be seen here: Holding: Interpretations of vessels by contemporary fibre artists
Some gathered thoughts for the exhibition catalogue:
Light & Line
Looking at historical baskets in museum collections frequently leads my work in new directions. Unfamiliar techniques and unusual materials draw my eye and inspire experimentation. Often in the absence of a traditional maker a desire to understand the structure and making processes can only be understood through hands on making, numerous mistakes and continued looking and reappraisal.
This basket made from plastic drinking straws and dyed fishing line combines inspirations from South African Zulu and Aboriginal Australian basket making traditions seen on recent travels and researches. While the techniques are straightforward the way the making progresses is unusual as this basket can be finished at the top or the bottom and decisions can be made at various stages of the works progression by pinching and squashing the form. In the context of the 'Holding 'exhibition I am happy that this work is made through such a manipulation of contained space. Other recent pieces have included concepts of 'folding space' as well as encircling or capturing space.
Working with unfamiliar translucent materials encouraged me to experiment with layering weaves and playing with different amounts of opacity in the dying of the fishing line. In this basket the transparency of the stakes or straws allows the weaving structure to be clearly seen - the normally hidden is made visible.
Technique and material combine to create - I hope - a pleasing form with traditional functional references but an essentially aesthetic and delicate appearance.
Is this a useful basket? What could it be for? Why would one make such things in an age of modern materials and mechanisation? The basket asks a variety of questions and represents a snapshot from a longer continuity of making and experimentation.
Tim Johnson October 2016