For those of you who have been following the MERL Projects blog, you’ll know that we’ve been doing quite a bit of work with MERL’s basketry collections over the past eighteen months. We now have the opportunity to build on that work with Stakeholders, a new project generously funded by The Radcliffe Trust, which will explore the collection in more detail.
MERL has an excellent and extensive basketry collection comprising over 620 baskets, basketwork objects and basketmaking tools. However, of these, approximately 100 baskets have never been studied by a specialist, meaning there is a significant gap in knowledge about these baskets. The aim of Stakeholders is to address this gap and provide much-needed enhancements to the knowledge we hold in relation to the collection, and to the collection itself.
Stakeholders will entail an intensive two-day hands-on workshop at MERL with established and up-and-coming makers to examine this subset of un-studied baskets, to support two strands of activity.
- Strand 1 will facilitate peer to peer (i.e. established maker to up-and-coming maker) and specialist to non-specialist (i.e. maker to Museum staff) sharing of skills- and materials-based knowledge, relating largely to basket construction, history and use.
- Strand 2 will result in the commissioning of new pieces from emerging makers to address gaps and/or produce replicas of vulnerable baskets in the wider MERL collection. These items will be accessioned into the MERL collection.
Stakeholders will not only contribute to our understanding of the collection, but will also enable us to enhance our resources, inspire creativity, and foster community stewardship amongst emergent makers.
I’ll hopefully be posting regular updates on the progress of the project here, and have grouped all previous basket-related posts under the category ‘Stakeholders’ to make searching for basket-related blog content a lot easier.