A new exhibition featuring basketry from the ancient world to the present day curated by Professor of Visual Arts, Sandy Heslop opens in the Sainsbury Centre gallery.
Basketry: Making Human Nature
Basketry: Making Human Nature is the culmination of a major ART research project exploring the development and use of basketry in human culture over 10,000 years. It comprises world art objects and contemporary art from Western Amazonia, North America, Oceania, Africa, Japan, South-East Asia and Europe.
The exhibition, which includes practical items such as a reed boat, a donkey saddle bag and a suit of armour together with art and design pieces, challenges our notions of basketry and explores ideas about the place of basketry in human culture.
Amongst the contemporary art in the exhibition are works by Laura Ellen Bacon, Wilfried Popp and Lois Walpole, with new commissions from Mary Butcher and Ueno Masao. The exhibition also includes three works from the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection of world art, which is permanently displayed at the Centre.
The exhibition is the culmination of 'Beyond the Basket'
- a two-and-a-half year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Led by Sandy Heslop
(ART), it was launched in 2009 to identify the mechanical traditions of making and the ways in which basketry is implicated in wider patterns of understanding, for example the order of society or the design of the universe.
The research has explored the role of basketry in human culture, focusing on various parts of the world, both in the past and present, from Europe to Amazonia, central Africa and Papua New Guinea.
Exhibition curator Sandy Heslop
said: “Basketry is a worldwide technology and is the interaction between human ingenuity and the environment. It tends to make use of, and therefore has to be adapted to, local conditions in terms of resources and environment.
“Without basketry there would be no civilisations. You can’t bring thousands of people together unless you can supply them, you can’t bring in supplies to feed populations without containers. In the early days of civilisations these containers were basketry.
“We may think of baskets as humble, but other people and cultures don’t. They have been used for storage, for important religious and ceremonial processes, even for bodies in the form of coffins.”
The exhibition runs until May 22 and entry is free for staff and students.
To find out more visit the Basketry: making human nature
website or The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art
s gallery home page.
Image: Mask, Salampasu peoples, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Africa, 1951 © Royal Museum of Central Africa (Tervuren)