Basket Weaving day! Very good day of learning new skills and having fun while getting terribly rained on. I have always liked the idea of weaving and making baskets, having transformed many a ear of corn into Lammas corn dollies and recently coming across a lot of contemporary artist working in the area. Today I finally got my chance, while learning from the most excellent Shane W. We got a tour of the park he is currently artist in residence for, the Stave Hill Ecological Park in London’s Docklands. He showed us a range of the plants which are good for weaving – and even out of the summer season, there is a lot of natural materials possible to use in beautifully crafted objects: willow, ivy, hazel, nettles, bramble, blackthorn, hops, rose creepers among many others.
We were shown a couple of techniques, and then used or foraged materials to make a basket construction.
I very much liked these techniques, and in fact also using all of the natural materials. One of my personal obsessions is folklore and mythology, and working with trees – each one of which has a plethora of different historical associations and legends – this appeals very much. I took out all of the mythological elements of my proposal between iteration 1 and 2 (after my interview). I do wonder if I should bring some of this back.
My basket, although small, seemed very much to me like an old viking drinking horn or the older horn of plenty. Linking this with ivy, itself a plant symbolising fidelity, seemed somehow very appropriate. This is the sort of deep, ancient connection between material and symbolism that I can’t resist. I did also try a stripped down form by making a pure weaved frame in a grid pattern; I had intended on doing more with this, but ran out of time.
Summary thoughts then. First off, I must get a copy of Shane’s book – I would like to learn more techniques, and try mixing up the materials a little. I think trying these out would fit very well with my plan to make a set of sample surfaces/objects over the holidays (this plan is currently rather ambitiously called #100cubes). Finally, must consider the mythology question and if this is merely a natural extension to my current proposal. Isn’t mythology just our society’s way of describing the reality of the world before we had the language of science?
And as a last word, having been thinking about Viking drinking legends on the tube home, I have found myself listening to obscure Nordic folk music (you have to love the internet). I found this great Finnish song from Värttinä which describes nicely how I interpret today’s mood from my basket weaving. Not sure what that signifies, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.