|Two of the exhibits in Urban Baskets|
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Urban Baskets has now finished in the
where, again, it was very well received. It will not be going on show again until June 2012 at the Harley Foundation in Netherlands Nottingham so Walford Mill in Dorset will have to store it until then. For me this is distressing, I hate to think of my work sitting in dark, suffocating boxes for eight months. These pieces were made to be seen and shared with others and when they are not on show they normally share my living space. Now the house feels empty and the baskets are shut away from view - it doesn’t feel right. Do any of you know of a vacant space, where they could be allowed to breathe again before June?
The work is very lightweight and is packed in postable cardboard boxes. It is not, by normal standards, an expensive exhibition to move around and it will all fit in a Transit van. From all the evidence in the visitors book and the attendance figures, so far, the exhibition is guaranteed to give pleasure and inspiration to it’s audience. If you know of a public space
, UK , Scandinavia, Germany , or anywhere else that might be able to squeeze it in please get in touch with either, me firstname.lastname@example.org or Christine at Walford Mill email@example.com and make some baskets very happy! Spain
At the same time we are working with various organisations and individuals on the possibilities of taking Urban Baskets to
and Canada from 2013 where, ideally, we would like to create mini tours. If you are reading this in either country please get in touch with suggestions of possible venues. Australia
Thursday, 27 October 2011
|La petite galerie du chateau du Roussillon|
|Michel Gardelle's ceramic pieces|
|Pots, shadows and baskets|
Last weekend we drove to
Roussillon to deliver the work. There I met Francoise Demoulins who is a basket maker and friend of Monica Guilera in . It was Monica who had suggested me as a possible participant in this event and I am grateful to them both. There were six exhibitors, the others were potters Sylvie and Francois Fresnais who were paired with the perigourdin expert Philippe Guerinel, and Christine Fabre who was paired with the irrepressible Erik Barray, self styled Vannier Urbain. Neither Philippe nor Michel were there for the vernissage but it was a great pleasure to meet the others and for me a particular pleasure to meet Erik. Catalonia
Nathalie and Jean-Jacques Dubernard, who live and work in a 200 year old pottery that is known as ‘La Poterie des Chals, were our hosts. They have changed very little at the pottery preparing their own clay and using foot powered wheels to make decorated slipware using only mineral glazes. The ancient wood fired kilns are impressive. They have a small shop and sell their work at many of the pottery fairs held in France. We could not have had better hosts.
Friday, 7 October 2011
In a bid to be environmentally friendly I went to Noordwolde in
Looking at the acres of new railway infrastructure construction as we hurtled through Northern France, Belgium and southern Netherlands I began to wonder why we are being persuaded that it is more environmentally friendly to cover the land with new railway lines when looking up, all I could see was empty blue sky from horizon to horizon marked by the occasional vapour trail from a solitary aircraft!
There is a scene in the wonderful animation by Sylvain Chaumet, Triplettes de Belleville, where the development around ‘Grandmas’ house has left the building that was once in the country jammed between a railway line, pylons, motorways and buildings with commuter trains now running right outside the upper floor windows. You can see a bit of it here . This vignette kept coming to mind as we screamed past bedrooms and gardens, places we usually like to think of as personal, private and tranquil havens.
It was the gardens that really got to me. Everywhere along these railway lines people had created little patches of verdant paradise with affectionately tended grass, topiary, flowers and exotic trees, as though they were trying to compensate for the hideous sight and sound of the railway line that they have to share their lives with.
Things improved once I got beyond
but, the Rotterdam is undergoing a major construction boom. This is not just on their railways, cranes and cement mixers were everywhere. It was only after Netherlands that pastoral scenes became the norm and fortunately Noordwolde turned out to be a very small and quiet town in some lovely countryside. Zwolle
On my first evening stroll at twilight I saw a hare, only metres away. I had never seen a live hare before, I thought it was a dog with extra large ears!
The motive for my journey was a two day workshop to coincide with Urban Baskets which has been on show at the Nationaal Vlechtmuseum since July. The workshop was fully booked with 21 highly motivated and hard working students, including two men! I am always delighted to get men in my workshops and I like to have a lot of students mainly because it keeps me busy. More importantly though, I believe the students can learn as much from each other as from me, as everyone inevitably does something very different simply because they come with different materials and skills. Men often make bigger things than women which, for me, is another good reason to encourage them.
Whilst I am personally fascinated by these social histories I am even more concerned with trying to make sure that these skills are not lost for future generations, so it was a real pleasure for me to meet Esme Hoffman and to see her work.
There is little chance for anyone to learn this craft to the same degree now at Lichtenfels as the skeined work module of the course has been reduced to just 6 weeks, which for anyone who has ever done any will know that it is barely enough time to learn how to make skeins let alone a basket! Esme is now seeking to take this skill in new directions and will be exhibiting alongside contemporary Dutch designers in a major exhibition next year in Holland. I can’t wait to see what she does.
|Esme in her workshop, where she also offers classes|
She is one of relatively few young people in
Europe who have been taught how to do very fine skeined willow work by elderly master craftsmen in Lichtenfels spending three years of her four year course focussing just on skeined work. She is also possibly the only one who has decided now to make it her speciality.