Nicole de Mestre’s Baskets: An urban approach to the weaving tradition

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  • By: Kerry-Anne Blanket
  • Sunday 9th August 2020

“For thousands of years baskets have been woven from materials at hand, reflecting the character of the place in which they are made. These baskets have been made from telephone cables, wire, fabric, plastic bags, rope, shade cloth, chain….all the ‘natural fibres’ available in our urban environment.” Nicole de Mestre

The highly skilled craft of basket weaving has a rich history in all cultures. Basketry is often considered a symbol of female and cultural identity. It’s interesting to consider how these items which historically served utilitarian purposes, such as carrying food or even babies, are often today preserved as museum artifacts.

It is also interesting to consider how the woven product is making its way back into contemporary trends. As contemporary society grows more and more aware of the environmental challenges ahead there is a resurgence of popularity around environmentally considered products returning to our daily life. The desire for eco-friendly materials and products is growing and there is a new appreciation for tradition and the beauty of these delicate looking but incredibly sturdy baskets. 

Baskets are created with extraordinary dexterity and patience. If constructed traditionally, the materials and methods are complex and the results are sturdy. Materials were sourced locally so the baskets used in the desert were incredibly different to those from the coast. Nicole de Mestre is influenced by these traditions and her recent series of basket artworks combine the technical traditions with the contemporary urban materials at hand. 

Nicole is no stranger to re-purposing discarded or unwanted materials from her local environment. Her extremely popular boat sculptures are created using a combination of materials washed up on the NSW East Coast shores along with more urban materials she has collected and prepared for use over the years. Her process of stripping materials back, cleaning them and then creatively sculpting with them opens viewers eyes to some surprising and beautiful ways of re-purposing the easily discarded items in our day-to-day life.

Nicole has just delivered a series of woven baskets to KAB Gallery. The baskets consist of various woven fibers sourced from her urban environment on the East Coast of NSW. The materials have been cleaned and stripped of their original purpose. Her process involved working the found and re-purposed materials in the same way our traditional ancestors would use their organic materials. The results are interesting and aesthetically beautiful one-of-a-kind ornamental baskets. They are perfect for the curious eye and are a gorgeous contemporary connection with the traditions of the past. 

Kerry-Anne Blanket, Director & Curator - KAB Gallery
About the author

Kerry-Anne Blanket

Director & Curator - KAB Gallery

KAB Gallery’s Kerry-Anne Blanket holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts and two Masters degrees (Hons) from the University of Sydney. With an extensive career in art education along with the management of museums and investment art galleries, Kerry-Anne can offer premier art consulting to her clients and source specially requested works. 

She has a keen eye for detail, comprehensive art market knowledge and a love of all things beautiful. Kerry-Anne works directly with artists and collectors alike to curate interesting and eclectic exhibitions.