Basketry: Weaving the Cycle of Life

Tuesday 19th February 2019

The Basketmakers' Company is celebrating its 450th Anniversary in 2019 and it has organised a number of special events for the year. The first is this showcase for the basket weaving trade and, for the occasion, the setting was the Old Library at Guildhall. Arriving at Guildhall Yard on the sunniest day of the year so far, we were greeted by the imposing figures of the wickerwork Gog and Magog, standing silent guard over the day's proceedings.

Formally opened by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester, the event was packed and included the Lady Mayoress, Sheriff Liz Green as well as many Masters, Mistresses and Clerks. The Master Basketmaker, Chris Hipkins, addressed the room and provided not just the historical significance of the trade but a clear message that the craft and the trade is alive and well. Indeed, as communities turn their back on non-recyclables, basket-woven goods are making something of a comeback. The event provided good evidence of that with items ranging from the practical to the decorative. In the case of the latter, the medium is so versatile that sculptural works were limited only by imagination and we found many pieces that were things of wonder.

This event was an excellent example of a Livery Company being not only close to its trade but also a strong agent of support and development. If the further Anniversary celebrations of the Basketmakers are half as well done as this showcase, it is going to be an exceptional year!