Wreaking Havoc

Jane Whitten

Artist Biography

Jane Whitten is a basket maker and knitter living in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Born in Australia, Whitten has spent much of her adult life in eastern Canada learning to make baskets and establishing her craft practice. She has also worked as a special education consultant in Nova Scotia, and later in Australia.

Although Whitten has been knitting since she was a child, it wasn’t until the 1990s that she was introduced to basketry through the NS Basketry Guild. She received intensive training from locally celebrated basket makers Joleen Gordon, Eileen Hubley, and Heather Sanft. Since then, she has advanced her creative work with internationally known contemporary basket makers Lois Walpole, Hisako Sekijima, Lissa Hunter, John Garrett,
and Jackie Abrams. She has a distinctive response to a variety of materials and techniques, creating functional and dysfunctional pieces.

Whitten’s basketry and knitting has been exhibited in solo and group shows in Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia. She was nominated for the Canada Council’s 2001
Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Craft and has won numerous awards for creations. Her work is in public and private collections nationally and internationally.


Exhibition Statement

Climate change is real. Industrialization is wreaking havoc on the environment. We are surrounded by the amazing diversity of nature that is being gravely impacted by our
ever-increasing development and abuse.

My challenge has been to recreate the essence of marine elements. I have experimented with a variety of textile techniques and structures using industrially made materials – preferably discarded. The production of these materials is a major factor in climate change and their disposal is causing global pollution, with dire consequences.

Although aesthetically pleasing objects can be created out of garbage, they can never replace the original natural ones. Viewers are forced to reflect on the impact of climate change and garbage pollution, and the urgency of taking action. There is hope: we humans are creative, and surely now is the time to put our creativity to work.

For the past twenty five-plus years, I have been an experimental basket maker, knitter, crocheter, stitcher, and general tinkerer. I gather urban flotsam and jetsam and explore ways of reusing these materials to create forms and vessels. I work on the premise that if I have enough of something, I just have to figure out what the material brings to the table and what I need to add to create the desired form. My work is determined by what I’ve been able to hunt and gather. The amount and variety of garbage always horrifies me. I have to reign myself in and be selective in what I collect and use. I understand that if I run out of something, I may not be able to find any more of that specific material…. but I relish in the treasure hunt.

Underlying my experimentation with materials, techniques, and structures is my passion and concern for the environment. I have recently retired and returned to Nova Scotia after living and working in inland Australia for over a decade. Reconnecting with the ocean environment and reconfirming my understanding of its fragility has been a powerful experience and one that has inspired me to create this body of work.


Published ©2021 by the Centre for Craft Nova Scotia All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. All photography courtesy of the artist unless otherwise stated.