I’ve been collecting wicker. Well, garbage-picking it actually. In my neighbourhood it’s gone out of style and so it ends up on the curb. And I can’t resist it: wicker hampers, baskets, bowls…nothing I need but everything I want. There is something enchanting about the weaving and wending, the writhing willow branches held in tension to create an object of beauty and use. I have to have it.
It’s intricacies are engaging to the eye, tempting to the touch. It is sturdy, but not solid: air and light flow through, keeping it fresh. It is Athena’s work, and the work of the women of Vinci, an Italian river town by full of willows—their branches worked into baskets by the mother of the artist Leonardo, he who would never cease to be fascinated by the woven patterns in the purling of water, the braiding and coiling of hair, the endless interlacing of twining branches and decorative knot work. One can see this obsession working itself out even in his intricate inventions, full of winding ropes and springy slats held in tension. There is magic there, in the weave, in the willow.