The Guild at 51 began their ‘Maker in Focus’ series for 2014 featuring work by Mary Butcher, a mixed media sculptor and one of the foremost willow specialists in the country. Mary is based in Canterbury and in 2009 was the Crafts Council designer in residence at the V&A. She writes
I was originally a willow specialist, learning local, traditional work from apprenticed makers. I increased my repertoire and researched basket history, a little recorded subject. Widening contacts, with both UK and overseas basketmakers, and a Fellowship in Basketmaking at Manchester Metropolitan University, gave freedom to explore creative possibilities, and generated other ways of making. My techniques and materials now vary from the traditional to the contemporary using natural stems, leaves, bark, wire, plastics, vellum, paper, lots of colour.
My research interests centre on our basket history, so far little recorded but now being actively explored. I have enjoyed spending time with traditional makers and recording their work, both technical details and their changing practice in response to consumer demand. It gives a good record of changing economies and industries and the nature of basketmaking today.
The Guild at 51,
51 Clarence Street,
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am – 5pm (closed Mondays)