Highly recommended exhibition – All hands on: basketry!

If you follow my social media accounts, you might have noticed that I’ve been learning a new skill: basket-weaving.

I attended a live workshop to learn classic basketry and currently I’m taking part in an online workshop about random weaving, coiling and foraging local plants. Why is this interesting for a feltmaker? For me, it’s the use of natural materials that can be found locally. Another aspect is the use of ALL kinds of materials, I mean ANY part of the plant – fresh or dry. Similarly to felting, you can create any kind of form – from loose parts to a solid but flexible form. And, of course, you can combine both crafts – wetfelting and weaving.

beautiful surroundings of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen in Berlin-Dahlem

When I was in Berlin recently, I had the chance to quickly glance at the current exhibition “All hands on: basketry!“ at the Museum Europäischer Kulturen (MEK). The large exhibition is divided into four categories: human, protection, material and pattern. Unfortunately, there’s no catalogue available but I could take lots of photos that I’m going to share here to make the exhibition available for a larger audience. Of course, my photos cannot replace a visit. As the exhibition is called “All hands on: basketry!“, it is an interactive one with videos, additional information on digital devices and possibilities to touch baskets and other products and try out weaving as well.

I‘ll share the three most fascinating pieces a BitTorrent in detail before adding a gallery with other pieces I found interesting. As I had limited time for my visit, it was I possible to have a look at all exhibits.

The first one is a sculpture called “The Woven Garden“ by Olaf Holzapfel, which basically filled an entire room. It was created together with three other master basketry makers out of willow. A “sequence of in-between spaces, like a labyrinth, a garden, or an open enclosure“ are created. Holzapfel is interested in “artisanal transformations in which the material of landscape is modified into cultural spaces“. Basketry is ideal for these spaces as it is something you can see through and where the “inside alternates with the outside“.

The Woven Garden by Olaf Holzapfel (2022)

The second one is a grass coat from the Alpine regions (1880-1920) made out of woven grass.

It‘s one of my favourites because I‘ve never seen something like this before and I didn‘t know grass was used in this way. Somehow, this coat looks similar to the felt coats used by shepherds from Turkey or Central Asia.

Grass coat (Alpine regions, 1880-1920)

The third object is a harvest amulet that was woven after the corn was harvested. These amulets could be signs of fertility, a good luck charm or protected fields and houses.

Harvest amulet (Belgrad, Serbia, before 1936)

The following gallery shows a selection of exhibits. I added names of basketry makers, titles and their origin as well as time they were made. All the information is taken from the panels next to the exhibits.

All in all, it clearly is an exhibition that is highly recommended. You don’t even have to rush: The exhibition is on show until 26th May 2024, in Berlin at the Museum Europäischer Kulturen.

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