Story by Kirsty Barros & Bettina McIlwraith

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Mixed, layered, combined, stitched and patched together in an energetic and haphazard mix of what’s on offer at Bolgatanga’s local markets - upcycled, found, vintage, handed-down and re-purposed altogether. This is how we live here.


Colour, motif and tradition interwoven with a wealth of waste so eloquently upcycled into everyday life as per tradition. Geometric weaving laden with meaning and spiritual strength speak the language of craft and sit alongside this epiphany of style founded in upcycling and new traditions. The future is handmade. 

Wack and improvised styling is how we use what we’ve got - inspired by local street vendors, rap stars and respected elders. This is the folklore of waste. Folklore of the time and age.

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Sydney Stylist Kirsty Barros took these photos during her one month tenure working with the artisans of Baba Tree Baskets, invited by Bettina McIlwraith who was working on the ground in Design and Development. The two friends who have known each other for years but never worked together, styled “The Folklore of Waste” side by side. 

Shot with their friends in Ghana’s Upper East Region - a very remote town called Bolgatanga, recognised globally because of the exquisite artisan basketry handwoven here. A celebration of the extreme creativity that abounds in the region, the strength and resilience of their companions and the relationships formed in making it all happen. 

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Photography Kirsty Barros

Styling Kirsty Barros & Bettina McIlwraith 

Words: Bettina McIlwraith

Models: Juanita, Flavia, Aggy, Paul, Daniel, Franca, D4, Mr. John