Baskets … may seem as though they are empty, but held within them are histories. The histories in the baskets are important because they tell a story of a time past and of change. They also hold the threads of the story of their collection and journey to their current resting place.

Baskets Hold a History, Alana Garwood-Houng

I began making baskets whilst on residency in Ireland. I used loose grass that had blown against a fence. The string came from the bags containing firewood. A year later I was in Alice Springs and trying to screenprint but a lot was going wrong. I was working outside in 40+ celcius degree heat, the silk on the screen was very loose and I was trying out a new brand of medium that obviously didn’t suit those conditions. I ended up with a lot of failed prints. I hated the thought of throwing them away so decided to cut them up and see if they could be woven. Someone gave me thread and the first few baskets decided the shape. The first basket was made too lose, using a similar tension used with the grass baskets. I later unpicked this basket and remade it. With the making of these baskets I decided that I could only used discarded prints and thread given to me. Only the needles are allowed to be purchased.

Over the years of doing this project people have given me their prints and yarns. A lot of the yarns have meaning to the person – for example a recent gift was from a friend who for 20 years has been saving the ribbons on women’s clothing put there to hold the clothes on coat hangers. She thought one day she would do something with them. Another yarn was embroidery thread left to someone by her grandmother. Some of the yarn has been collected by artists on beaches. Some I find myself.

This work is growing and more and more people are becoming part of it. It is creating its own story.



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