Monthly Archives: September 2014

On the Rails

The 27th of September 2014 sees the opening of This Beloved Earth, an exhibition of baskets and fibre weaving at the Barony in West Kilbride. As part of the build up to the exhibition, and to draw attention to its content, Lise Bech decided to organise a weaving session to decorate the railings outside the Barony building.
Barony 25.9.14 2
Lise asked me to join her for one of the days, which was a great excuse to do something I have not done for several years i.e. plaster some railings in willow. When I arrived on the Thursday there had already been a group the day before making some stunning architectural designs to highlight those of the building. My brief was to make something 3D giving the impression of rolling hills.
Barony 25.9.14 3
At the other end waves were appearing with the obligatory fish and some boats.
Barony 25.9.14
The Scottish Basketmakers’ Circle will have their AGM and Autumn meet at the Barony in October when some of the artists and makers involved in the exhibition, such as Lise Bech, Mary Butcher, Joe Hogan and Barbara Ridland will be in attendance. It is hoped work will continue on the railings during this time.

Tree Nursery

Over the years I have made various structures for St Ninian’s Nursery, starting with a living willow dome, followed by ‘fedges’, tunnels, and ‘twigwams’. What was once an open area of bare grass is now an exciting play space with added tyres, sand pits and growing areas. However a recent school inspection felt that there was not enough natural material in the classroom, despite the fact the children use their outdoor classroom on a daily basis!

So there was nothing to do but take the outside inside.

Tree St Ninians

A tree trunk den was the commission, small enough to fit in the classroom but big enough for several small persons to sit inside.

Tree St Ninians

I made most of the structure outside, well it was too nice to be indoors.

Tree St Ninians

Finally we lifted it through the double doors, just about fitted, and I finished off the detail in the classroom. Suffice to say things began moving in before I even finished, there were a few teddies resident when I crawled in to trim off.

What goes round, comes round

This summer I was lucky enough to be involved in an event called ‘Corroboree’, “…an art festival celebrating people, indigenous culture and ecological diversity among the Commonwealth Nations.” I did two events one at The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and the Botanic Gardens at Dawyck.

The brief was to work alongside the Maori weaver Veranoa Hetet, who does some wonderful work from New Zealand flax.

Veranoa Hetet 2014

As well as Veranoa there were also some other Scottish willow weavers taking part, Lise Bech and John Cohen. I had not seen Lise for some time and it was great to actually spend a whole day in her company. More importantly Lise was the person who introduced me to basket making and was my tutor during the early years of my career.

Lise Bech Basketmaker 21.6.14

John Cohen is doing some great work and seems to have developed an individual style in quite a short time. His first few lessons in basket making was with me and it is really great to see someone young taking on the craft with a passion and desire to learn.

John Cowan Dawyck 2014

Over the two days I decided to make a sculpture of New Zealand flax, not instantly recognisable, except for Verenoa who was delighted with the reference to her own material and country. However it did draw people in and gave me an opportunity to discuss the process of willow sculpture. To be honest it was too small, a large representation would have had more impact, but it had to go back in the van at the end of each day. I never did finish it.

New Zealand Flax sculpture

A Quick Leaf Through

Last year I did a commission for some ‘leaf’ gates for the opening of a new viewing platform at the recently landscaped area in the grounds of the Forth Valley Hospital, Larbert. The idea was to have a variation on cutting the ribbon, so the leaves hung across the walkway then swung open when the ribbon was pulled. For extra effect the ribbon was attached to a willow heart.

Forth Valley Hospital 2013

Next month I am taking part in a pop up gallery in Cumnock so I am looking for something quick to make but big in effect so I thought of the leaves. A quick trawl through my images produced these reminders which I took when I did the original commission.

Leaf construction 2 Leaf construction 1 Leaf construction 4 Leaf construction 3