Baskets made from telephone wire, South Africa. They were made by men who had moved from villages to towns and cities in the early 1990s and found work as night watchmen. They recognised the potential offered by the discarded telephone wire that they saw lying about in the buildings they were guarding. With time on their hands, a knowledge of basketmaking techniques, and a new brightly-coloured material they invented a stunning new art form.
The general form of the baskets is traditional but the telephone wire did not lend itself to traditional coiled basketry techniques. As a result the makers developed a different spiralling technique that was more appropriate for the material and made brilliant use of the colours. New technical developments - the introduction of fibre-optics and cell-phones - has led to a shortage of the telephone wire and the end of this vibrant but short-lived art form. Diameter of largest basket 26.3 cm. (Collection 1993.9).