In tune with the cycle of agriculture, basketmaking follows a seasonal rhythm. There is a time for gathering grass or rushes and a time for weaving them into baskets, sieves and granaries used for harvesting.

Basket forms are shaped by their function. Even though baskets are woven as serviceable household items, there is still opportunity for individual expression through decoration.

Bundles of different types of grass collected in the Midlands. Grass is used for coil weaving and palm leaves are used for all other weaving.
Brightly coloured palm leaf baskets and sleeping mats seen at Durban Railway Station.

DECO visited the Design Afrika weaving workshop that was hosted by Binky Newman and presented by Rene Bahloo who showed us different weaving techniques.

First row left – right: Combination of random and coil weave, twist weave, beginning of random weave. Second row left – right: Loop stitch woven into a Dilly bag, loop stitch woven, random weave.

Akugeja laswel’ umlimi – Zulu proverb

(If something is useful people will find a use for it)

All baskets by Project Kingston Africa – a collaboration between Kingston University Design School and Lupane Women’s Centre, Zimbabwe.

Photographs Niel Vosloo – Production Laureen Rossouw and Hendrik Coetzee

First published in our Country Issue 90 inspired by a trip to the Natal Midlands.