Other People’s Shoes, Glenese Keavney

Glenese Keavney

Artist Statement

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 weaving, coiling, stitching, and twining. Embellishment was introduced to add my story to the substrata of the fibre. My major materials are natural fibres; particularly Bangalow palm. However, the materials have also been expanding – including pig gut, aluminium flashing, painted cotton paper, telephone wires, and memorabilia materials that can be woven such as scarves and dressmaking patterns. A drill and rivet gun are exciting new tools to play with.

From the beginning I was interested to explore the melding of craft traditions – my grandmother was a dressmaker and my mother a milliner. This translates to using sewing techniques such as darts, gathering, dressmaking patterns, buttons, ribbon trim etc.
I am also keen to explore the limits of the fibre used – hence mending, patching, and using distressed fibres. Now that we are all so acutely aware that we are stressing the capabilities of our wondrous Mother Earth I am interested to just work with what is at hand, especially found objects.

Recent themes that I have been exploring relate to acceptance, gratitude and finding a way to an inner clarity (at times through a journey of darkness) in the face of life’s challenges. A current theme is the difficulty of genuine human exchange.

I have participated regularly in group exhibitions since 2005; held a collaborative exhibition with photographer Ollie Cool in 2012; and jointly exhibited with Meri Peach and Flora Friedmann in 2011, 2014 and 2017 at Timeless Textiles. In 2018 I had a piece (A Mixed Dozen) on display on the Plinth in the Park in Civic Park North Sydney.

I was a founding member of Basketry NSW Inc. and am currently the President. In 2018 this group participated in the North Sydney ‘Red Project’ mounting a group installation ‘Shades of Red’. I was instrumental in supervising and curating this initiative.

This creative life journey is always worthy of examination and reflection; culminating in the latest exhibition – “Perspective(s)” – collaborating with Flora and Ollie. Our creative endeavours have a tendency to weave together from time to time …… so many Perspective(s) to try to understand.


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