Artists profile: Dail Behennah

Do you remember the show Treasure Hunt?  Where Anneka Rice ran around the countryside in a jump suit following obscure clues?  I Ioved that show – they really don’t make TV like that anymore! Well, this is how I’m currently finding research!  Starting from one artist and then looking up exhibitions and books they appear in, and then finding other relevant artists from those books.  It is a surprising amount of fun – although I am aware I need to do something with all of the inspiration.

So, this is how I came across Dail Behennah, a maker from Bristol who creates amazing contemporary baskets using her own unique construction methods.  Found in the book “Art Textiles of the World: Great Britain volume 3”. First off, some pictures:

Blackthorn-DishBlackthorn Bowl (2006), white willow, blackthorn, bamboo, dowels, gluePebble-Sphere_5Pebble Sphere (2006), acrylic box, MDF, gesso, varnish, pebbles, crimps, wire

Stainless-steel-balls_1Stainless Steel Balls, Stainless steel cable plaited

Twenty-five-SquaresTwenty Five Squares, white willow, silver plated pins White-Square2_1White Willow Square (2006), white willow, silver plated pinsdail_behennah-Intersecting Circles (2006), white willow, dowels


What I like about her work is the feeling of strong geometry and such clear line and form.  She notes this herself in her artist’s statement:

“There are two strands to my work. The first is geometry and mathematics which underpin everything. The second is a sense of place. I have a degree in geography and my vessels are constructed as one would build a 3D relief map, starting with a regular grid and drawing on contour lines which form the curves of the container. Many of my baskets refer to, and contain elements of, a particular landscape…My work is informed by my knowledge of baskets and basketry…but my pieces are usually made using techniques that I have devised myself. I build rather than weave, and the long straight sticks of willow lead to line rather than surface or volume. I prefer the method of construction to be visible and honest, so the pins or wires that hold the work together provide punctuation marks on the smooth surface of the willow….My work is about line, light and shadow and I always try to bring to it a sense of calm, but not stillness.”

I am very inspired by all of her work, and quite interested in the idea of making baskets or at least forms of this style.  I have been thinking a lot recently about experimenting with some sort of weaving.  We have a workshop on Monday with Shane on basket weaving, which I’m quite excited about. Hopefully it won’t be called off due to heavy rain!

Inspiration I’d like to take forward:

  • the strength of line to make form
  • a maker who is happy combining her art form with her science background!
  • playing with natural materials, perhaps in combination with man-made or technologically advanced materials: a sense of two parts of a modern reality?
  • rocks!

I also spotted this work, 100 Beginnings, where Dail has created the start of 100 different baskets using a range of different materials and techniques.  This is similar in a way, to the idea I was having over making my surface samples.  Perhaps I should think more three dimensionally, and try something like this. I also didn’t think about making quite so many – but then again, why not?!One-Hundred-Beginnings-detail

ANT xx



2 thoughts on “Artists profile: Dail Behennah

    1. Eileen

      You are definitely sounding as tho you gaining more focus on how to” be ” on this course – I like the basket weaves but then geography and in particular, contour maps, were favourites


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