The Woven Communities project grew out of an initiative and collaboration between a group of Scottish basketmakers, the Scottish Basketmakers Circle (SBC), and Dr Stephanie Bunn, an anthropologist from the University of Saint Andrews. The SBC’s aim was to collect together and document all the diverse research conducted about Scottish vernacular basketry. Stephanie was interested in this, but also in why this seemed so important to the basket-makers. The group had long been conducting research into Scottish vernacular basketry, learning skills from regional practitioners, researching in their local communities, surveying basket-related plant ecology and visiting museum collections and archives. Stephanie was concerned with the dynamics and learning involved in skill, design and craft practice in a changing world. An AHRC award enabled us all to work together towards these goals.
During the project, we gathered new materials through linking up with SBC members who knew their local basketry heritage, made scoping tours of museum collections, worked with regional curators, and linked up with botanical gardens, ecologists and sustainable craft heritage specialists. We have researched in libraries and archives across Scotland and drawn on the many wonderful web resources which contribute to our theme. We have built a website, which is still growing. You can visit the project website here http://wovencommunities.org And we held our Woven Communities Symposium, which you can learn more about through exploring this site.
Through our research on this project, we have come to see that many of us are a part of a longstanding, historical community, an intergenerational collaboration of basket-makers, basket-researchers and basket enthusiasts who have been renewing and recreating this kind of practice and research from generation to generation. From crofting creel makers to hot air balloon basket-makers, from Highland Home Industries protagonists to historians and arts and gallery promoters, we have all contributed to this ongoing woven community. We acknowledge the basket-makers and their champions today, along with the associated communities of curators, botanists, ecologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and many others, who have been involved with this study, and are concerned with our sustainable craft heritage. We also acknowledge the legacy we inherit from our ancestors, the different communities of practitioners, trades-people, crofters, fisher-folk, Travellers, farm-workers along with researchers, collectors and enthusiasts in the past who have had similar concerns.