Wired presents a distinctive art form created within the rich cultural context of contemporary Zulu/South African culture. The book showcases hundreds of extraordinary, colourful telephone wire baskets – a craft based on Zulu traditions, using recycled materials.
The decorative use of wire has long been a feature of southern African artwork and, with advancements in telecommunications, a new type of wire – multi-coloured, plastic-coated copper wire (telephone wire) – has become available.
In the 1960s, Zulu night watchmen started weaving scraps of this wire around traditional sticks. The practice became popular among Zulu communities and today there is great innovation in the use of this medium. Artists have produced goods ranging from soft wire bowls and plates to glass bottle covers, tea sets, isikhetho (beer strainers), and pots.
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-Jordan is the founder of the Bartel Arts Trust (BAT) Shop in Durban, South Africa. She plays a pivotal role in the development of international markets for telephone wire baskets.