Soundweaves - The Pitt Rivers Museum


Basketry Plus is a group of artists and makers who aim to push the boundaries of basket making and introduce the craft to a wider audience. Their members share a passion for experimentation, and exploring the potential of new designs and materials. The pieces in the Soundweaves exhibition respond not just to baskets in the Museum's collections, but also to musical instruments and other artefacts with interesting textures, patterns and shapes. The works explore the universal importance of sound and music, and by lifting objects out of their historical and cultural contexts, they combine traditional and contemporary techniques to re-invigorate a long-established craft. The sound clips connected to each piece represent the sound it makes, the sound made by the materials used, or relate to the source of inspiration.
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Norma Adams

“I was inspired by the folded form of a skin bagpipe at rest and used soft sisal and the split-braid technique – which produces asymmetric, organic shapes – to suggest this relaxed structure. I dyed the sisal in more than 20 shades of brown and buff to evoke the tones of aged animal skin. I attached bells, which, like the sustained drone notes of a bagpipe, also possess a resonating quality. For me the sound of tune and drone is very evocative & takes me to another place.” 


Floating and Sinking

Margaret Sparks

“I used a variety of materials including cotton and synthetic thread, paper tape, and old clay tobacco pipe stems, and assembled them using netting and plaiting techniques.”


Sound Traps

Maggie Smith

“This work was inspired by a group of circular wheel traps in the Museum. I found the traps visually pleasing, especially their textures and patterns, and the way your eye was drawn to the centre. Laying aside the functional requirement of physical entrapment increased the range of materials open to me, allowed me to enhance this ‘visual’ entrapment, and introduce the added dimension of sound.”


Silver Rattle

Joyce Hicks

“A rattle is a percussion instrument which produces a sound when shaken - a shaken idiophone – the objects enclosed rattling against each other and the walls of the rattle. My 'rattling objects' are plaited paper balls enclosed in a randomly looped wire container worked in an open manner so the balls are visible.”


Blue Trumpet

Joan West

“The only thing I wanted to say about the trumpet is that I had no idea what sound it would make and that it turned out to be a little mournful.”


Wired for Sound

Anne Ratnarajah

"A juju rattle from Cameroon made from antelope horn with a colourful covering of beadwork inspired my piece. I have used copper wire which is particularly used with ceremonial pieces in southern Africa. Combining the wire with semi-precious stones gives the work a sense of value and richness."


The Calling Bells

Suni Lopez


Sound with Movement

Geraldine Poore

Inspiration for this piece was a fish-catching basket scoop of twill-plaited cane, from India. I was attracted to the way rhythmic, complex patterns of weaving had been used in such an informal manner to create the scoop. Essentially a piece of fabric had been woven, or perhaps recycled from another object, into a functional scoop.


Jingle Bells

Elaine Kingsford



Rachel Max

"There is no such thing as silence. Something is always happening that makes sound. Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating: the sound of a truck at fifty miles per hour; static between the stations; rain. We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them not as sound effects but as musical instruments." 
Silence by John Cage (1961)


Trio (Mad Musical Melodies)

Lorraine Gilmore

My work is inspired by several objects in the Museum including Burmese footballs and mad weave baskets from Malaysia. The materials are a mixture of classical music scores and those from popular songs of the 1930s and 40s. My recording echoes the weaving by crashing music from the different eras together in a ‘mad mix’.



Sherry Doyal plus Uncle Fred Taylor (deceased) 

“The word bangle in Hindi and refers to glass bangles which sound as they clatter together or brush against a surface. Basketry materials do not. The North West Coast peoples of North America make bangles of the type of cordage used to make ceremonial regalia.  Cedar wood is important to the societies where family women are often the weavers who make the regalia, while men carve and make the wooden frame drums used in the ceremonies. My piece is bangles within a wooden nut bowl (which has an anvil and hammer) made by my deceased Uncle.”