This distinctive basket belonged to the archives of renowned Australian artist Margaret Preston (1875–1963). Preston was ‘one of the first artists to advocate the use of Aboriginal designs and motifs in Australian art. From the 1920s she travelled widely in Australia studying and searching for Aboriginal art’, which influenced her work for much of her career. She promoted ‘an art form that was a blend of Aboriginal tradition and contemporary styles’.
(Claire Baddeley, Motif and meaning: Aboriginal influences in Australian art 1930–1970, 1999, pp. 3–4. For further reading, see A changing relationship: Aboriginal Themes in Australian Art 1938–1988, (exh. cat.), SH Ervin Gallery, 1988)
Visitors to this exhibition have recently provided information that this basket is not by an Australian Aboriginal maker as originally documented, but likely to be from Buka Island off New Guinea. One anecdote related that, in the 1950s, Buka women would come to the larger Manus Island and sell such baskets on market days to navy personnel stationed there.