• Joanna Gilmour, Darwin's Baskets

    Joanna Gilmour, Darwin's Baskets

    2003, © the artist, 2011

It is an essential characteristic of basketry that some elements are flexible enough to weave through the structure to hold it together. Flexibility has a number of advantages. If the elements are very flexible the object can be folded up or rolled into a small space when not in use. Where the strands are springy, they have the capacity to absorb pressure or impact and then regain their original shapes. This means that some basketry containers expand when filled, or cushion their contents if dropped. It also makes basketry ideal for shielding the body.

Inspired by shapes and contours in nature, the flexibility of basketry lends itself to the construction of sinuous and bulbous forms, evoking the vitality of its organic origins. The associations with living things and growth can provoke a range of reactions, from comfort to threat. A container with slightly swollen sides may suggest the fullness of ripe fruit while serpentine or whip-like shapes are less reassuring.

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