Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Winter Open at Oriel Q, Queen's Hall, Narberth.

The Winter Open Exhibition at Oriel Q, Narberth begins on 10th December and runs until 11th January. The preview is on Friday evening and I am sure you are wellcome. There is an online catalogue if you can't  make it. I had a sneaky peak  while the gallery assistants where busy hanging and it looks great. Hope to be at the opening and have a closer look. See you there.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Latest Willow Sculptures

At the moment I am juggling a few things from living willow projects, harvesting, planting,a bit of basket making, teaching and sculpture. My most recent sculptures are of a fox and a wild boar. Both are about  one metre in length and the boar is a study for a larger sculpture that I am trying to get off the ground next year. The fox is a mix of willows woven around a simple wire frame with a bit of cane for the white fur around the cheeks. The boar was begun with a wire armature with steamed willow woven over to create the shape and finished with a layer of silver birch. The birch adds a lovely rougher texture that works a treat, I love it. The little white eyes are two thicker stems of birch snipped at the ends. I have entered both for the Oriel Q open exhibition at the Queen's Hall Narberth over Christmas and the  New Year, I hope they get accepted. Next is a large badger head for the living willow installation I am helping with this week and next in Haverfordwest. I will add images as I can.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Meet the Makers.

Newport Collective is the place to be on Monday 5th December with a Meet the Makers opportunity. We will have mince pies and a warming mulled punch aswell as lots of great work for you to see. Recently our numbers have grown and the range of work on offer includes upcycled clothing from Wench to beautifully crafted wooden spoons and board from Eugene to jewellery and fascinators from Lucy. There are lots of reasonably priced gift ideas, cards, and charming little trinkets to adorn your tree all created by our members who are all makers and artists living in and around the county. Come and join us we will be very happy to wellcome you.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Willow Harvest 2011

The wait goes on, mild weather, no frosts mean the leaves on my shorter willows are firmly clinging on. The Flanders Red however is bare so I have cut a little of it and the Black Maul too. Really I will have to be patient and wait another week or two...There's always so much to do and I want to plant double what I have now so will prep the ground ready. The lack of stuff to weave has actually allowed me to explore other things too. Metal armatures, New Zealand Flax which I discovered through meeting Judith Ferns at Dail Behennah's workshop at Ruthin Craft Centre. I am quite excited with it and will post photos soon perhaps.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Coedwig Exhibition at Oriel Myrddin

Coedwig (Forest) is the latest show at Oriel Myrddin in Carmarthen. This is their yearly selected winter show with a range of arts and crafts for sale. Newport Collective'  Philippa Sibert is showing a selection of paintings, monoprints and mixed media works which all reflect the chosen theme beautifully. I love the work that you find at this gallery and one of the other makers selected is one I have met at other events over the past two years and is a favourite of mine, Eve O'Neil She makes delightful needle felted animals and birds which are all exquistely created and here they are displayed in an old medical or museum case which adds to their charm. The hedgerow and rustic basketmaker Susie Vaughan has some of her latest creations included too and I was very curious as to how she constructed the bases of two of them...a weaving puzzle. Lots of the work is actually very affordable and I would recommend a visit before you find yourself dizzy with distraction in the big chainstores. Lots of thoughtful care and soul in some handmade wares can be found at this treasure box of a show.

Philippa Sibert Oil on Canvas

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hard Fi 'Good For Nothing' At Glastonbury 2011

Laura Marling 'Rambling Man' Glastonbury 2010

Guy Garvey Of Elbow Interview at Glastonbury 2011

Cell Mates 'Mariachi El Bronnx' Glastonbury 2010

Jon Allen 'Last Orders' At Glastonbury 2011

John Grant 'Sigourney Weaver' at Glastonbury 2011

I love John Grant and seeing him at Electric Picnic and on my sons 21st birthday was one of those highlights I will remember for the rest of my days. He belts it out with such wit and warmth and he had the crowd performing kareokiwise, absolute star. Somebody sent me this You Tube film of him at Glastonbury Festival in the BBC's garden  infront of my Hey Girl willow sculpture which now has me beleeiving in absolutely extraordinary possibilities, that will move you to scream involuntarily
 happening to you at anytime, lol. I rename that scuplture "Sigourney Weaver" in his honour and praise.  But you know none of this would happen without the help of my young team and especially Izaac Cain who is  the real motivator in my life. Thanks buddy

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Ruthin Crafts Centre, "Baskets" Exhibition

Ruthin Craft is the purpose built state of the art complex for the display, understanding and sale of some cutting edge work by contemporary makers. For a while now I have been anticipating their latest exhibition called, perhaps a bit unassumingly,"Baskets". The nine makers chosen to exhibit are diverse and talented masters specialising in the ancient craft of basket making in the broadest sense, exploring individual ideas and techniques to create their own unique and beautiful forms. All of the work is fascinating and inspiring. As a maker I am always scrutinising the work of others to find the "how" and the seamless interplay of materials and techniques to achieve the work. All these makers deliver excellently and elegantly. For me the show is uplifting. Looking at the images later I realise the things I  missed in the gallery, especially in the photos taken standing further away. Dail Behennah's pieces are for sale individually but here in the show they appear to be of a whole with the angles of  colours matching and flowing from one to the next, it would be a shame to separate them, what a brilliant acquisition they would make together. Lizzie Farey's airy wall pieces are a delight, they seem to have flown from the more densely woven sphere and vessel forms placed below them, frozen in a moment of flight. Looking more closely in the gallery the work of Joe attracted me on a more personal level as he is a rural dweller growing his own willow to use and commenting that he found these three elements "deeply satisfying". Again the depth of this relationship with his thirty years experience is evident in his sculptural take on the traditional form. Including gnarled and curving branches and stones to close and top his pieces I was reminded of the landscape of the west coast of Ireland, the ever changing weather, the shimmering light on a lake or sea, the outline of the rugged ancient hills and mountains and the puzzling prehistoric structures that cling to the landscape like stubborn, decaying teeth, mysterious and secretive. Lee Dalby's, minimal frame baskets may have their origin in the everyday unfussy utility ware familiar to every home once upon a time but he has transformed these baskets into objects that resonate with an almost  modern spirituality. An obvious love of these humble, simple shapes and their recipes combined with his sensitive selection of his own cultivated materials and excellent execution, I feel  he elevates what is the everyday, the commonplace. I could not imagine I would dare use one of his baskets for something mundane they surely should be used for some other special, sacred or ceremonial purpose. They are very beautiful and very desirable. Mary › artists & curators › artists & curators

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Philip Treacy at Tate Liverpool

One of the highlights of the various exhibitions I visited in Liverpool this weekend was the show curated by Philip Treacy at Tate Liverpool. Some beautiful choices I loved the portrait of a sleeping Leigh Bowery by Lucien Freud. So tender and the slight hint of a smile and peaceful expression captured was very beautiful. A gem. Apart from his choices from the Tate's collection were the carved wooden block moulds Treacy uses to create his imaginative and unique hats. There are two packed 30m shelves of them and they make an eye catching display in themselves. Very desirable. Jaw droppingly gorgeous.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Secret Light Garden at Picton Castle 2011

It came and went, a flash in the night, kaleidoscopic castle, luminous tree tops, strangers in the light, illuminated peepholes, real ghosts and willowy giants, spooky lake and a glowing snail. What I love about Secret Light Garden at Picton Castle is that once you step through the gateway you immediately feel like you are entering another world. The colours and shapes of all that is familiar disolve into something else cartoon like and a wonderland. The art trail entices you to explore the nooks and crannies. As you go along you discover some intriguing,puzzling, mysterious objects. A huge plastic water tank, suspended overhead, becomes a pulsating light with deep philisophical ponderings printed on it for the literate to articulate to the very young. On you go and a saxophone playing shadow serenades you as you pass by. You turn and find a garden of small ultraviolet flowers never before seen on earth. Beyond oversized glowing tulips spur you further on into the shrubs and trees, turn around and the castle is invisible transformed into a swirling iris shooting out light from every compass point. What's this? A door just there in a clearing. You open it and a light is switched on to reveal a couple laughing, close it and they are gone open it again and another image appears a man on a scooter in a desert. What a strange house you are thinking when you next encounter a wardrobe but it won't open. You can hear something inside a radio perhaps quietly broadcasting, you notice little holes in the side where light from within shines out. You peer through and get tantalising glimpses of a room or rooms, belongings, photographs, old fashioned, vintage wallpaper. Who lives here, are they in, are they small, are they asleep, dozing off to the humming radio. We walk further amongst cedars and vines touching beautiful carvings, sitting on toadstools, climbing on trees. A band strikes up accordian and fiddle and we examine strange glowing moluscs gathered in an aquarium. Back on the lawn below the castle we clamber like children onto giant wooden chairs where we can all sit together to watch the lights play. Have you seen the ghosts someone asks over by the door in the wall over there. We leave our perch to witness the sight. There they are.
They appear through the door and sit on the step, two ladies in white from another time, oblivious to us, chatting, drinking, laughing. They are gone but another appears, a man who digs the flower beds to the side of the steps. Little children go up to him and try to feel him, touch him but he is not there he is not real he is a ghost they say. Another vision appears a young woman with her broom, she sweeps each step, looks around, her work is done and she is gone. Like a wisp of mist. Come back you want to say and if you wait and wait she will.
I bumped into friends I hadn't seen in a while and made new ones I hope to see again.
When closing time came we were tired and happy but a little sad to say goodnight.
Last year they thought they would not do it again, I am so glad they did, next year they say it will be their last.
I am sure it will be something special. Everybody contributed their time and creativity free of charge and there was an agreeably organic evolving of it's design and spaces. Gareth, Jen, Ashley, Roddy and Nixy did a good job to make it so. So thanks to them and all. The chocolate cake maker, hot chocolate and mochas to die for. And Beanie Dog woofed her special sausage rolls glad I had forgotten her usual munch. Happy all round.xx

Sunday, 2 October 2011

My Baskets

It's the end of the year for basket making. I am nearly all out of last season's willow and what's left is going into commissioned pieces. The harvesting time for willow is almost here, in time with the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain. Once 31st October has passed I will be just raring to begin cutting the bare withies that have grown and turn them into creations both functional and not. I have allready been wandering amongst the beds we have planted and it is as good as shopping for a buzz! Really, the branches are so juicy and alive, they even smell good. Time keeps pushing forward and I have been thinking about all this activity, growing, harvesting and making locked together in woven forms. At festivals there is always the pause in activity when the sculpture is up and is part of that other pocket in time, I stop and wonder what to do, no stuff to weave, well better take a photo. I rarely stop to photograph my baskets though...or workshops. This year I am making more of an effort so here are some of the ones I didn't forget to snap.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Joe Hogan at Cruth Curach, Electric Picnic 2011

http://http// years Electric Picnic included a temporary pavilion designed and built as the outcome of a competition to celebrate Ireland's Year of Craft 2011 a colaboration between by architects Bucholz McEvoy and Jim Horgan of the Galway School of Boat Building . Inside the pavilion were some perspex display boxes with various examples of craft objects. I was instantly drawn to two of them because inside were works by Joe Hoganhttp://http//, Irish basket maker par excellance. My excitement was increased to find he was giving a talk with Joanne Hynes fashion designer who he collaborated with on her 2010 London Fashion Week Show. One of the displays was one of the actual hats he made for her and the other a beautiful basket of willow and lichen adorned birch. Breathtaking. The pavilion was situated on the Villge Green and Global Green a place filled with fairground carousels, bingo tent, various amplified campaining stalls and the drifting sounds from the stages beyond. All festivals are a fusion of sound and this Irish one has the extra gregarious breeze of that other contributor....the crowd themselves. It was Saturday at 4pm that Joe and Joanne gave their talk and a microphone helped but we also gathered close to them with our seats. They explained how they collaborated Joanne wanting Joe to create untamed hats using his basketry materials to wilder effect. After her show in London they found their work appearing all over the media and front page of the Guardian. The image of a model in one of their twiggy creations was stunning. Joe described it as a mohawk ...I thought it was very similar to a Cossack's helmet with birch replacing fur. Joe however thrilled and suprised by the attention said he would be remaining firm in his own practice not dissapearing off into the fashion world. Why shoudl he from basket making he makes a good living and also for those who love his work an impression and inspiration in his own right. Joanne noted her practice was spread from continent to continent, flying from place to place were Joe had a more holistic connection with his craft, growing his materials, working within that envirioment. Both these creators are at the top of their game to see them sit together sharing the microphone she in her heels and perhaps one of a kind outfit, he in more everyday smart casual wear theystill managed to look like two equal co- conspirators in tune with the desire to explore ideas and let their activity lead them to something new and suprising. Afterwards there was a Q&A session and they were very easy to pry and listen too. It was wonderful to talk to Joe later and he told me he was to have an exhibition of his work in Port Laois the following week. Unfortunately I would be home by then however he is taking part in a show at Ruthin Craft Centre 16th September which Isaid I would be visiting. and in which he said he was showing six pieces. I admitted to being the maker of the willow sculptures installed just a little distance from the pavilion and he said he had given them a close look..."well you would wouldn't you" and ofcourse I would but.. hey he was positive. Absolute gentleman.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Electric Picnic 2011

This was our 5th year at Stradbally. We installed Hey Boy and Hey Girl, which is what I called my two male and female waving figures, on the Village Green. I was happy with the position near the fairground rides and trailer and also close to the Craftitecture Pavillion (constructed to celebrate Ireland's Year of Craft a collaboration between master boat builders and archtitects). Towards the end of the instal a "drifting" guy came and said the sculptures would be stronger together not apart. I mumbled something. He asked could I move the girl over? Er well.... I asked him what he was up to...change the subject..." nothing" he said "I'm the promoter". Well we left them where they where and I think they were fine. But Ihave got so many ideas for next year. We put the fox in Body and Soul next to the main stage and I think he looked the best he has all summer but I want to make changes for the next one. The festival was great..John Grant, Everything Everything, PJ Harvey, Underworld who also DJ'd on Arcadia's stage. Lords of Lightening too where fun. So many things and a significant birthday for Izaac. We met Joe Hogan too who gave a talk in the crazy racket. That was an anorack moment for me ...don't worry you would have to be a fellow anorack to understand. What's next? Secret Light Garden of course.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Goodbye Foxes

Here are my two one year old foxes leaving home for good heading to Jersey and Jersey Live. This is a rite of passage that runs in the family. It's what I did back in the day. Bon voyage foxies.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Willow sheep sale

Last week and I mean injust one week saw a bit of an unexpected clear out of sculptures that were filling up the barn and shed...two sheep, a giant ball, half a willow woman and two of my big some space gained sooo what do you think I will go and do with it....Ideas, ideas ideas. Ps. They all went to good homes. Baa, baa!

Willow Weaving Workshop

Here are a few photos of the Willow Weaving Workshop I ran at the Wildlife Centre, Teifi Marshes on 11th August. 55 participants in 5 hours plus a few mums and dads and grandparents busied themselves making huge willow dragonflies. So much concentration and creativity and quiet from a room full of young energetic types. Who would have thought it posible. Some days I just love my job.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Cambridge Folk Festival 2011

Cambridge Folk Festival was hot, hot, hot. Set in the very beautiful Cherry Hinton Hall Park it's majesty and beauty reflected and enhanced by the musical genious of those present and too by the discerning people who choose to be there.
I must say I am still glowing from the heat, brightness and brilliance of Richard Thompson, Pentangle, Ms all. Mourning the performances I had to miss because I was running workshops...Justin Townes Earle hope he comes and tours... It was a pleasure and the workshops where popular and ran over and ran out of reeds so the final one was recycling the leftovers of the others.