• Dail Behennah, Wire Telephone Bowl

    Dail Behennah, Wire Telephone Bowl

    2004, Photo and © Somerset County Museums Service, 2011

  • Lois Walpole, Millennium Basket

    Lois Walpole, Millennium Basket

    1999, © Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, (Norwich Castle Museum and Gallery)

Basketry exploits available resources of all kinds, primarily natural materials but more recently manmade ones. People are not alone; birds and other animals may use paper, plastic and wire in constructing their nests. The principle is the same, finding materials with the required properties of strength, flexibility, insulation or permeability.

The repair of damaged baskets is an important aspect of recycling as it often involves making do with whatever materials are to hand: strips of metal or nylon cord. The character of the basket gradually changes through the successive stages of mending.

Increasingly the advantages of using discarded materials are being exploited in creating new baskets. Strands of tape or thin rolls of paper and anything that can be cut into strips, such as plastic containers and card, lend themselves to experiment. Their colour and texture have extended the aesthetic repertoire of basketry.

Recycled materials are also broadening the ethical aspects of the technology, for reusing rubbish is now seen as a contribution to protecting the environment, equivalent to the traditions of nurturing natural resources. Perhaps it is this broad moral dimension that makes recycling appealing for a wide range of producers, from the developing world to contemporary art studio practice, and to the markets for which they are working.

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