Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ararat Basketfest Opens

Ms Jane Burns AM and Mr Joe Helper MP at the opening.

Gallery visitors enjoying 'Floating Forest'

'Floating Forest' is currently on show at Ararat Regional Art Gallery in a 30th anniversary exhibition. The key components from Douglas Fuchs' legendary fibre environment have been loaned from and is presented in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. The exhibition is presented until 1 April 2012, as part of Ararat Basketfest 2012. We were honoured that Jane Burns AM, the founding director of the Crafts Council of Australia was able to visit Ararat to officially open both 'Floating Forest' and Wendy Golden's 'Paired' exhibition (until 19 March) on Friday 17 February 2012.

Douglas Fuchs (1947-86) was an American basket maker who came to Australia on a Craft Council of Australia Fellowship in 1981-82. He arrived in Adelaide in July 1981 and set up a studio at The Jam Factory, where he began working on his ambitious ‘Floating Forest’ installation. Douglas exhibited three versions of ‘Floating Forest: at the Adelaide Festival Centre Gallery from 27 November to 24 December 1981, the Meat Market Craft Centre, Melbourne from 26 January to 28 February 1982 and the Crafts Councils Centre Gallery, Sydney from 1 to 23 May 1982. ‘Floating Forest’ is widely considered a landmark in the development of a contemporary approach to basketry in Australia, and many artists who came to know Douglas speak of the profound impact he had on their lives.

Douglas’ Australian residency also enabled a transformation in his own practice, where he exploited his significant knowledge of basketry technique in the pursuit of a freer, more expressive and personal sculptural vision. Sadly ill health affected his ability to pursue this ambitious new direction on his return to the USA. Douglas died in 1986, but key components of ‘Floating Forest’ were acquired by the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, making it possible to mount a 30th anniversary presentation of ‘Floating Forest’ and celebrate Douglas’ creative legacy.

A number of associated exhibitions accompany the presentation of 'Floating Forest' including 'Baskets for Douglas', featuring four baskets especially made to celebrate Douglas Fuchs' legacy by artists who knew or were influenced by him. The baskets are by Dion Channer, Charlotte Drake-Brockman, Pat Dale and Virginia Kaiser.