my practice is centred around a sense of time and place, especially the contemporary plant world in Sydney

Basketry and Fibre Art

My interest in basketry and fibre art is a mid-life coming together of different areas in my life. Travel. I lived for 7 years in Latin America in my 20s and early 30s and it feels like I have been admiring basketry, weaving and the handmade around the globe for a long time. I am drawn to the artistry and colour and how living arts relate so closely to people’s lives – often women’s.

As a long time feminist I have been very interested in women’s development projects which help women earn a realistic income through their art and craftwork.  I also love plants and became quite a digger when I finally settled down in Sydney in my early thirties.  I had a yearning to be more creative in a physical sense – as I have always found work to be intellectually creative.  Fibre art seems to demand the same kind of problem solving – just in a different dimension.  On a whim I took a basketry weekend workshop with Australian artist, Meri Peach in 2011 at the Botanical Gardens.  I haven’t stopped since then. 

photo:  Lisa Tilse

photo:  Lisa Tilse

My practice is centred around a sense of time and place, especially the contemporary plant world around us in Sydney.  I am trying to use traditional techniques from basketry while embracing our current range of domestic, native and non-native plants – these don’t feature in other places or times.   While admiring the immense beauty and form in baskets from around the globe, I am more interested in documenting Sydney's contemporary plant life than reproducing the functional pieces of traditional basketry from other times and places.  The inspiration is definitely from the plant world around me in Sydney but the forms take inspiration from all domains of life – how people live and what they choose to have around them to give their environment beauty and meaning. Lately I like the idea of hanging work – baskets, flat pieces, wall sculpture and pendants.  As city life has become faster and sleeker, we love to bring the natural indoors to give texture and meaning to our urban lives.

I have lived in Sydney’s Inner West for over twenty years and nearly all of my materials are gathered or grown in the local area.  Sydney is a very green city with a wonderful climate for gardening and harvesting leaves and vines all year around. The sustainable element of my work brings me great joy.

In my fibre art, the choice of fibre is very deliberate. Fibre choice celebrates Sydney’s diverse plant life and I like to use whole, recognisable fibres whenever I can, juxtaposing indigenous plants, exotics and, yes, even ‘weeds’. I use basketry techniques that will showcase the beautiful fibres, rather than the other way around.  Sculptural ideas are driven very much by the inherent sculptural qualities of each fibre.

Not everyone realises that all baskets are handmade and that the gathering, drying, soaking and weaving process takes considerable time.  The politics of the slow craft/ slow stitch movements have great resonance for me.  Currently my work is sold in several Sydney gallery shops.  Woodpapersilk at Lewisham,  Kristina Brenke at Palm Beach, The Happenstore at Annandale and the Australian Design Centre's Object Shop, Darlinghurst, have a range of pieces.  Please contact me if you would like to enquire about any pieces you have seen online.