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Basketry Book Review

Contemporary International Basketmaking by Mary Butcher
Contemporary International Basketmaking

Publisher: Merrell Holberton Publishers, London
ISBN: 1858940788

by Mary Butcher

This book is published as an exhibition catalogue to accompany the major touring exhibition Contemporary International Basketmaking organized by the Crafts Council, London and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England. The exhibit itself tours six venues. Twenty-seven contemporary British makers are represented. Their work is mixed with the work of a broad and important complement of international artists and artisans. The exhibit was mounted to in part to challenge the understanding of just what is a basket. It is meant to encourage the practice of basketmaking, as well as raise the understanding and establish a proper status for contemporary baskets and basketmakers.

The book begins with a review of the origins of contemporary basketmaking. It examines not only the traditional and modern history of basketmaking in Europe, but the origin and cultural significance of basketry worldwide. An essay by Laurel Reuter provides context of the development of basketmaking as art in North America. The book continues with an interview process where individual artists respond in their own voices to a series of questions probing their approach to and view of their work. Interspersed throughout, the vivid color images of individual objects and artists at work add a visual reference point. The third major component of the book explores basketmaking technique. Each of the major construction categories is discussed and illustrated with selections from the exhibited works. An International resources list, exhibits list and extensive bibliography are included as well.

marybutcher.jpg (8410 bytes)Mary Butcher is a teacher, lecturer, researcher, curator and author working primarily with willow. She travels in Europe and the United States teaching and researching both traditional and contemporary basketmaking. She is a research Fellow in Basketmaking at Manchester Metropolitan University and the author of books on willow work and chair seating.

This book is not targeted towards a reader seeking how-to information or instruction on materials processing for basketry. It is rather directed towards the serious student of the art form looking for a depth of meaning and understanding of historical context, contemporary artist recognition and technique in the field of basketry.

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Buy this Book

A quick note to authors and publishers... I will be reviewing basketry-related books periodically.  I have a small stack of review copies to begin with, but if you are an author or publisher and would like to take part, just contact me to let me know what books you would like reviewed. Thank you for your help!


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