Nicole's practice is centred around a sense of time and place, especially the contemporary plant world around us in Sydney. She is trying to use traditional techniques from basketry while embracing our current range of domestic, native and non-native plants – those that don’t feature in other places or times.
Nicole Robins weaves baskets that are made from native and exotic plants gathered by her in and around Sydney. She uses traditional basketry techniques to display the inherent sculptural qualities of the fibres she collects.
Nicole spent seven years living in and travelling around Latin America in her twenties and feels this influenced her interest in weaving and craft. She is also very interested in international women’s development projects that allow women to earn incomes from their arts and craft. These influences joined together when on a whim she attended a basketry weekend workshop with Australian artist Meri Peach in 2011 at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens – and she hasn’t stopped weaving since then.
Images: Nicole Robins, Basketry work. Photo courtesy of the artist; Nicole Robins, Portrait. Photo: Phil Rogers
OBJECT SHOP MAKER Q&A
What is your 'origin story'?! Where did it all start?
I did a coiled basketry workshop with the amazing artist Meri Peach at the Botanical Gardens in 2012. I came to fibre art and basketry through my love of plants. Although I use other materials I am really trying to experiment with the use of Sydney's current urban plants - exotic architectural fibres, indigenous plants and weedy beauties. Growing and identifying them and upcycling then into a new life form that can live on and provide natural texture and wall art in our modern homes is a way of bringing the natural world indoors. It also gives me the opportunity to study how our urban climate is changing and how my practice is nonetheless very much governed by the seasons. It is slow sustainable art. Pieces can take weeks to complete and the gathering of fibres can stretch over months. My patience grows yearly!
Describe the last thing you made?
I have a couple on the go most of the time - I am currently working on a long pendant for the Artisans in the Garden exhibition in October in Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens.
Who should we be following on Instagram? Who are your favourite local makers?
I follow wonderful basketry and fibre artists all around the world - this is brilliant because we all work with our local fibres and the techniques used are driven by local materials, so there is so much variety and cross fertilisation. I also love looking at other contemporary artists - jewellery in particular and people working in innovative ways with wire and other upcycled materials. I am interested in shapes coming out of ceramics and new texture ideas emerging from weavers like @crossingthreads. The natural dyers and slow fashion trends are also of great interest - check out @memoriesofcountry and @sallyblakeartist. I also think it's really important to promote the small businesses which are championing local makers, selling our work and running workshops: @woodpapersilk, @thehappenstore and @kristina_brenke. They are as important to the upsurge in handmade that we are experiencing, as the artists themselves.
Tell us about your dream project ambitions?
I would like to travel and cross fertilise more with other international and indigenous basket makers and fibre artists, on this very small interlinked planet of ours!
What is your favourite spot in Sydney and why?
This winter it's my sunny deck in Haberfield with a basket between my knees and an interesting podcast in my ears.