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.
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.
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.
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.