Chosen by Alana Hopkins, The Wilson, Cheltenham
We ask makers, curators, designers, creative practitioners and the Crafts Council team to select their favourite object from the Crafts Council Collection and to tell us why.
Alana Hopkins, The Wilson:
The size, shape, colour, and solidity of this basket are all curiously surprising to me.
I have asked the curators, so I know the basket is not heavy, but even so, it sits with a reassuring presence at one end of the gallery, where it is on display as part of the Hidden Agenda: Socially Conscious Craft exhibition.
I am struck by how grounded the basket seems, and the tactile quality it has – which is perhaps underlined by knowing that the artist has pieced the basket together by hand, using coiled willow, string and thrown-away apple juice cartons. The Hidden Agenda exhibition is about using craft as a platform for social comment and provocation, exploring issues such as environmental responsibility, war, class and work. This piece explores production, the value of work, and the many processes involved in making something. To me, it demonstrates how much goes into making any object by hand – considerations around the functionality of an object, its design, sourcing and preparing materials, and using a skill to allow it to take form. In particular, it’s interesting to see how Walpole has taken old, discarded materials, and used her basketry skills to create something new and functional, which at the same time maintains its social conscience and aesthetic qualities.
I also love the way Lois Walpole’s piece relates to an item on display in the partner exhibition, Crafting Change: Community, Protest, Utopia – curated by The Wilson with items from the museum collections. One item on display is a patchwork bedcover, made by stitching together old shirt tails. It dates from the mid to late 1800s – and is a wonderful illustration that using craft to reclaim, reuse and repurpose materials has a well-established history in British culture.
Hidden Agenda and Crafting Change are both on at The Wilson in Cheltenham until 5 June 2016