Contemporary basketmaker and knitter creating functional and dysfunctional pieces using traditional and non-traditional materials
I am a basket maker and knitter presently living in Summerside, Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. Born in Australia, I have spent much of my adult life in eastern Canada learning to make baskets and establishing my craft practice. At the same time, I worked as a teacher and special education consultant in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), Nova Scotia, and later in Australia.
Although I have been knitting since I was a child it wasn’t until the 1980s when I was living on Fogo Island, NL, that I started creating my own award-winning knitting designs. In the 1990s after I had moved to Nova Scotia I was introduced to basketry through the NS Basketry Guild where I received intensive training from locally celebrated basket makers Joleen Gordon, Eileen Hubley, and Heather Sanft. Since then I have advanced my creative work with internationally known contemporary basket makers Lois Walpole, Hisako Sekijima, Lissa Hunter, John Garrett, and Jackie Abrams.
There is a great similarity in the way I have approached problem-solving in my teaching and in my craft. A goal is set – learning to read or making a basket. A starting point is found – basic skill level or a pile of material. And then the fun begins – exploring the options for getting from one to the other! I have a distinctive response to a variety of materials and techniques creating functional and dysfunctional pieces.
Underlying my experimentation with materials, techniques, and structures, is my passion and concern for the environment. These play an important, often subconscious, part in the materials of choice and the final forms I create.
My basketry and knitting have been exhibited in group and solo shows in Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia. I was nominated for the Canada Council’s 2001 Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Craft and have won numerous awards for creations. My work is in public and private collections nationally and internationally.
Barbara Houston Art Studio, 6 Fitzgerald’s Lane, Bonavista, NL
NL islets (hand knit pots encrusted wth sand), upcycled baskets, upcycled seastars, seaweed baskets
Flight of Fancy, Bear River, NS
NS islets (hand knit pots encrusted with sand)
Oh Hey, PEI, Founders Hall, Water St, Charlottetown
PEI islets (hand knit pots encrusted wth sand)
PEI Crafts Council, Centre for Craft, 98 Water St, Charlottetown, PEI
PEI and NS islets (hand knit pots encrusted wth sand), upcycled baskets