Baskets and belonging: Indigenous Australian histories – British Museum, 20 August 2011

With a spare half hour ahead of me and finding myself near the British Museum on Saturday afternoon, I thought I’d go and check out the Baskets and belonging: Indigenous Australian histories exhibition.

And I’m really glad I did. The exhibition is truly delightful.

The baskets come in different and often unusual shapes. They are made either by women or men, depending on the indigenous group. The function of the basket vary as well – it can be used to carry children; goods; to collect leaves; etc.

Indigenous groups are still making baskets to this day in a bid to retain their culture. They are happy to use new materials, ensuring their baskets evolve with the times. What I found fascinating is the fact that what started as tool (baskets are useful) soon became a way for basket-makers to represent their groups. In some cases, baskets are decorated to show off the artist’s skills. The exhibition also has an interesting sub-plot: the effects of European contact on indigenous groups.

Baskets and belonging: Indigenous Australian histories is on at the British Museum until 11 September (room 91). Admission free.

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