For hundreds of years the Zulu people of South Africa have been celebrated for their skill in producing beautifully patterned baskets. As part of the exhibition Joie de Vivre, Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections is delighted to present a range of finely-crafted, hand-woven baskets that demonstrate the intricacy in design and vibrant colours that have established South African basketry as a functional art not to be overlooked.
Presented in the exhibition are both Batonga Isangwa and telephone wire baskets. Fashioned from dried palm leaves woven tightly together, Isangwa baskets were traditionally used in Zimbabwe for separating grain from chaff when farming. Due to their light weight, unique patterns and typically neutral tones that emerge from the combination of natural and dyed fibres, these baskets are popularly used for decorating walls. Telephone wire baskets, now a hallmark of South African basketry, first became favoured by Zulu artisans working in urban areas when they began recycling the robust, readily available scrap material. With their even texture and dynamic colour range, telephone wire baskets deliver a captivating convergence of modern materials and traditional basket-weaving.
The baskets presented have been woven by various artisans, mostly women, in rural communities across South Africa. At Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections, we feel it important to promote the continuation of traditional African basketry and to support the economic independence of these amazing artisans.