AFTERMATH 11, Glenese Keavney
My journey with basketry began when we moved to a new home with Bangalow palms in the backyard. I loved the inside of the sheath – the part that hugged the trunk; and the inflorescence carrying the seeds. It seemed so wrong to treat them as garden refuse. But how could I use them?
This question gradually called me back to craft, which I had abandoned in early adulthood, lured into academia first and then the world of business. It also called me back to a new appreciation of ‘women’s work’ and the life of my mother and grandmother who were both so skilful with their hands in making and doing.
I specifically discovered Basketry in November 2003 when I attended a workshop offered by Virginia Kaiser at the Botanical Gardens in Sydney. Since then I have gradually become more and more passionate about this art/craft form. I have attended many workshops to help develop my skills and have also explored new possibilities with diverse materials.
In 2008, I attended a Fibre Forum at Orange taking a class offered by the textile artist Pat Hickman (USA). Pat planted the seed that basketry was more than a craft; it was a way to make sense of life and express meaning. This approach has stayed with me and my ‘baskets’ are expressive rather than functional.
I use traditional basketry techniques of coiling, stitching, and twining. More recently embellishment has been introduced to add my story to the substrata of the fibre. My major materials are natural fibres – Bangalow palm (leaf, inflorescence, and flower sheaths), pine needles, red hot poker, cordyline, lavender stalks, flax, and lomandra. However, the materials have also been expanding – including pig gut, aluminium flashing, telephone wires, and memorabilia materials that can be woven such as scarves and dressmaking patterns.
Recent themes that I have been exploring relate to acceptance, gratitude and finding a way to an inner clarity (often through a journey of darkness) in the face of life’s challenges.
I have participated regularly in group exhibitions since 2005; jointly exhibited with Meredith Peach and Flora Friedmann in 2011; and held a collaborative exhibition with photographer Ollie Barrington in 2012.
I was offered a solo exhibition by Timless Textiles in 2013 but life circumstances made that not possible. Instead 2 friends, Meri Peach and Flora Friedmann, agreed to join me in a collaboration. This resulted in the successful exhibition “Small Mercies”. We enjoyed this creative exchange so much that we are again working together for the current exhibition which develops beyond the earlier theme
I was joint founder of Basketry NSW Inc. and am currently on the committee of that organisation.