About this course

Following close observation of traditional Arfican baskets, you will learn creative basketry techniques using soft basketmaking materials and grasses. Explore how to adapt these diverse traditional African weaving methods to make baskets, mats and woven objects.

Course Description

Close observation, drawing and structural analysis of traditional woven objects can be a rewarding process for basketmakers and textile artists. Looking at a variety of traditional woven objects from Tim’s collection, you will learn about the huge diversity of African basketmaking on this course and learn some of the special techniques used.

Working with soft materials, including rush, cyperus and esparto, we will explore some of the possibilities that twining, camel looping, ply split darning and neolithic braiding, also known as Burkina technique offer for creative basketry today.

This workshop will involve drawing and observation in combination with sampling, and experimental making research in response to traditional baskets. Once an understanding of the original baskets structures is understood, we will go on to make baskets, mats and woven objects, inspired by traditional objects.

Immersive Art School Week

This course is part of our new ‘Immersive Art School’ group of short courses for summer 2024, led by talented artist-tutors Emily Ball (painting), Tim Johnson (basketry), Jane Fox and Jane Sampson (printmaking), James Hunting (textiles) and Katie Sollohub (painting).

There will be tutor talks on the Tuesday evening from 5:15 to 6.15pm in The Old Library as part of the course. Studio visits are encouraged to share work and experiences (out of core teaching hours).


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course, rush, cyperus and esparto grass are supplied for the course.

What students need to bring

  • Fine scissors (larger ones are provided)
  • Notebook and drawing equipment: pencils, coloured pencils, eraser
  • Clothes pegs – just a few to help you hold your work
  • You may find other basket making tools useful if you have them, including a rush threader, darning/sacking needles
  • Side cutters/small clippers if you have them
  • Sturdy covered footwear in the workshop – this is an essential health and safety requirement.
  • You are welcome to bring along only African baskets of your own to show the group.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Large darning needle
  • Rush threaders
  • Notebook and pencil

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes). Possible equipment restrictions in tutor absence.


Tim Johnson

Over the past 25 years, artist and basketmaker Tim Johnson has explored the relationships of material, place, nature and culture. His diverse creative practice encompasses basketmaking and performance, photography and painting, sculpture and installation, textiles and costume, his work has been exhibited internationally.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.