There’s a lot to be said for Community programs which bring together like minded souls in the pursuit of a common interest and the Sculptural Basketry course that I attended last Friday organised by the North Sydney Community Centre was no exception. The class was held in the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability in North Sydney, and run by Harriet Goodall. Harriet is an Australian fibre-artist exploring the intersection of craft, art and design using basketry techniques as the foundation and amongst the ten women attending, four had healthcare backgrounds, three were florists, two garden designers and all of us were collectors of ‘stuff’ from shells, feathers, seed pods to palm sheaths, jacaranda leaf stalks and philodendron sheaths. Each of us was looking for an experience – a new passion, hobby or the simple joy of making something wonderful with our hands and spending some relaxing time learning an ancient craft. The day for me certainly did not disappoint.
Harriet is a very generous teacher and shares her extensive knowledge of the random weave basketry technique using recycled materials sourced freely from gardens, bush and beaches all of which can be used in the weaving process. The morning exercise was rope/string making using raffia, an old custom used in many Indigenous cultures. By the afternoon we were well on our way to weaving pod like shapes from hand-dyed rattan which we later embellished with recycled materials that we had either collected ourselves or that Harriet had brought with her. Sitting in our chair circle, the room at times was filled with the chatter of women relaxing and sharing stories and at other times filled with silence as we concentrated hard on our baskets trying to weave the ‘outies’ in and the ‘innies’ out.
By the end of the day we had all completed a basket – some of which were larger than others and some more embellished. All of us were able to leave the class with enough knowledge to forage, collect and dry plants to have another go on our own if we had caught the weaving bug or to simply leave with a reminder of a beautiful day spent in the company of an interesting and caring group of women under the watchful eye of the very talented and generous Harriet. For further information about Harriet, see her website: http://harrietgoodall.com/ and for future workshops contact https://www.northsydneycentre.com.au/