The Upsett

Empty Seed Case by Joan West

The Upsett, poster, Stella HardingThis is a show of contemporary basketry in the Barbican library foyer, showing the world that the craft is no longer what people instantly imagine. No shoppers here, though I love to see them in other exhibitions and still love to teach those traditional skills which it is so important to maintain. More of that, and the Heritage Crafts Association another time.

But here are diverse sculptural objects, threads, wires, willow, and much more, professionally set out in cases with surface broken with covered flat plinths – can plinths be flat?– setting the objects up really well against light backgrounds. More, larger, pieces are on the walls.

All are works by Basketry Plus, a group who have emerged from the CityLitCity and Guilds basketry course and who have banded together to continue to work and exhibit.

 'Restrained' and 'Certain Tension' by Lorraine Gilmore

'Scattered Seed' by Joan WestTheir title, The Upsett, is a nice play on words, the first few rows of weaving up the side of a traditional basket being the upsett. With those rows you are getting everything set up and organized, but the group is also keen to upset the perception of basketry. They are showing the audience that, as a craft, it has two sides, which interact and have crossovers but here is the contemporary, full of personal discovery.

All the exhibitors here have traditional skills, not only UK ones, taught them at the City Lit so have a good base to work from but now they use them as they wish – scary freedom! The exhibition is fascinating and fun too – check it out.