Modern tales of Africa

24th March 2006 at 00:00
Human-sized clay pillars like giant termite mounds, baskets woven with figures and objects that tell a story, exquisitely decorated ceramic pots and shimmering metal work are just some of the fine contemporary African craft pieces that will feature in an exhibition in Hawick next month.

Mixed Belongings, opening on April 3, comprises work by four African craft makers from Britain and four from Africa, who were commissioned by the Craft Council as part of Africa 05. Hawick Museum is the show's final venue and the only one in Scotland.

The exhibition shows how "eight people forge their own creative paths through their African heritage, taking in politics and personal history along the way". The organisers point out that over the past decade African craft has gone through significant change and say Mixed Belongings "questions existing perceptions of African craft".

Elizabeth Hume, the visual arts officer for Scottish Borders Council, was brought up in Nigeria and Ghana, where her father was an aid worker. She was responsible for bringing the exhibition to Hawick and says it showcases work that is "not what the general public might expect from African craft.

These are one-off pieces, some of them on a very large scale, made by artists."

The baskets that tell a story were woven by a woman from Botswana, whose mother taught her basketmaking when she was 12. Now her work is so sought after it can cost up to pound;2,000.

A sculpture of recycled plastic rone pipes decorated with burnt-on patterns also features among the 30 works on show.

Large panels will display information about the artists and visitors will be able to listen to interviews in which they talk about their work and inspiration.

Alongside Mixed Belongings will be a display of objects from Hawick Museum's own African collection, dating back more than 100 years to when local people began visiting the continent.

Workshops for primary and secondary pupils will be held during the course of the show.

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