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Basket Case II Showcasing Contemporary Zimbabwe Baskets

The New Basket Workshop - Bowls by Sebastian Herkner and Binga Craft Centre

In 2010 I featured Basket Case, a pioneering exhibition of contemporary Zimbabwe baskets from some of the southern African country’s leading basket-weaving organisations. The exhibition was the initiative of The New Basket Workshop, a South African based organisation that works with rural basketry groups in a number of African countries including Zimbabwe, Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa to assist with areas such as product development and accessing international markets. Building on Basket Case, 2014 saw the presentation of Basket Case II, a showcase of cutting-edge basketry produced by a select group of local and international artists and designers commissioned to work in collaboration with five weaving communities; the Binga Craft Centre, Bulawayo Home Industries, Lupane Women’s Centre, Zenzele Foundation and STEP Trust in the Honde Valley.
[Main image credit: Basket Case II Exhibition, 
Bowls by Sebastian Herkner and Binga Craft Centre – Eric Gauss/Eye on Art]

[Image credit: Basket Case II Exhibition, 
The Gourd Family by matali crasset and Bulawayo Home Industries – Eric Gauss/Eye on Art]
Basket Case II was developed over the course of two years between 2012-2014, and was curated by Raphael Chikukwa, Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, and Christine Eyene, Guild Research Fellow in Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. The artists involved were; Ifeoma Anyaeji, Nigeria; Alexandra Bircken; Germany; Tapfuma Gutsa, Zimbabwe; Delaine Le Bas, UK; and Michel Paysant, France; and the designers matali crasset, France and Sebastian Herkner, Germany.
[Image credit: Basket Case II Exhibition, Alexandra Bircken, B.U.F.F. – Eye on Art]
The work produced sees the intersection of contemporary design, craft and art; the visual and the functional. Inspired by the iconic Bulawayo gourd basket French designer, matali crasset collaborated with Bulawayo Home Industries to create pieces that include bags, mirror stands, vases, and the Matopos range of sculptural bowls and trays, woven out of natural locally sourced fibres such as ilala or sisal. German designer Sebastian Herkner in collaboration with Binga Craft Centre experimented with incorporating different materials and techniques to basketry, firstly by adding coloured plastic fibres from rice bags to the basket forms, and secondly by combining pottery and basket weaving to create bowls that draw on the local Tonga culture. To achieve this Sebastian utilised the skills of a local potter having drawn inspiration from clay pots seen at Binga Museum. Zimbabwean artist, Tapfuma Gusta’s designs were informed from his work as a sculptor to produce organic abstract forms that also referenced intimate parts of the male and female body.

“The resulting art works and objects are multidisciplinary and blend Zimbabwean regional weaving traditions, knowledge and skills with contemporary art and design. While each of the pieces embrace weaving as a common artistic language, they also bear the distinctive mark of each participant”. – Doreen Sibanda, Executive director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe


[Image credits: Basket Case II Exhibition, Ifeoma Anyaeji, 
Asiwafuni Amavila (2014) Mixed Media Installation; and Detail – Eye on Art]
Basket Case II was unveiled at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe between 30th October-15th December 2014. The exhibition has since travelled to The National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo where it will be presented until 21st March 2015. In addition to the exhibition matali crasset, Sebastian Herkner, Binga Craft Centre and Bulawayo Home Industries, will also be presenting some of the designs from Basket Case II at Ambiente in Frankfurt, Germany, which runs from 13th February until 17th February 2015. Ambiente is the leading international consumer goods trade fair, attracting visitors from all over the world. Supported by the EUNIC Zimbabwe Cluster (British Council, Alliance Française and Zimbabwe German Society), which is funded by the European Union participation at the fair was facilitated by Studio Sebastian Herkner in partnership with Ambiente.

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[Image credits: The images shown were sourced via and Eye on Art; and If downloaded and used elsewhere must be credited accordingly]

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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

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Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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