Wired: Contemporary Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets
by David Arment (Author), Marisa Fick-Jordaan (Author)
Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press; illustrated edition (March 15, 2005)
Hardcover: 211 pages
Dimensions: 10.25 x 1 x 10 inches
The manufacture and decorative use of wire in Southern Africa traditional arts dates back to the first millennium AD. With advancements in telecommunications, a new type of wire – multi-colored plastic-coated copper wire, often referred to as telephone wire – came into being. Beginning in the late 1960’s, Zulu night watchmen started weaving scraps of this wire around their traditional sticks. This new material was also applied to making izimbenge – beer pot covers – that had been traditionally made from grass and palm. Today, there is wide variety in the creative use of this wire, and, in post-Apartheid South Africa, Zulu craft artists are imbuing old forms with the colourful contemporary material of telecommunications. The result is a vibrant, distinctive new folk form gaining international attention. This is the first and only publication to document the development of this transitional art. Including more than two-hundred examples of baskets, this book traces telephone-wire weaving from its roots to its most current forms, featuring the works of the most renowned contemporary weavers. The accompanying text – from some of the foremost experts in African art and craft – traces the history of telephone-wire weaving as well as discussing its significance to South African culture and art history. Today telephone wire baskets are at the heart of growing markets for South African products and sustainable cultural industry in Zululand.
About the Author
Dallas based art collector David Arment spent many years travelling in Africa, and bought his first telephone wire basket in 1992. He has since built one of the premier collections of telephone-wire baskets by contemporary master weavers Marisa Fick-Jordaan is the founder of the Bartel Arts Trust (BAT) Shop in Durban, South Africa. A designer and craft development consultant, through the BAT Shop she plays a pivotal role in the development of international markets for telephone wire baskets. Paul Mikula is a Durban, South Africa based architect who was the first local patron and collector of Zulu telephone wire weaving. A founding trustee of the Bartel Arts Trust (BAT) he is also the owner of the Phansi Museum which houses a comprehensive collection of South African indigenous artefacts.